Coronavirus continues to tear at the fabric of British society, with the caseload rising in different regions. The result has been increased tension between Downing Street and regional governments as both parties battle it out over the imposition of localised lockdowns. Ordinary citizens are seemingly caught in the cross-hairs of all this chaos, trying to get on with their lives while remaining safe.
The one tool everyone has at their disposal is awareness of the myriad symptoms of COVID-19 – the viral disease that has spawned from the latest version of coronavirus.
Awareness of the symptoms and responding in a way that mitigates the threat of transmission should help to conquer the virus.
What has become clear from research is that the main symptoms listed by the NHS do not capture the range of effects caused by the viral disease.
Even the symptoms the health body does highlight can behave in peculiar ways that it does not formally acknowledge.
Take loss of smell and/or taste, one of the main symptoms stated on the NHS website.
Anecdotal reports suggest the viral disease does not simply render your oral and olfactory faculties ineffective.
The viral disease can also alter your sensory experience, changing the taste of food and drink.
This is evidenced by an account shared by an infected patient named Kate McHenry, who recently spoke to the BBC about her taste disturbances.
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She said: “I love nice meals, going out to restaurants, having a drink with friends but now all that has gone.
“Meat tastes like petrol and prosecco tastes like rotting apples. If my partner, Craig, has a curry the smell is awful.
“It even comes out of his pores so I struggle to go anywhere near him.”
Another COVID-19 patient told the BBC earlier this month: “Everything that had really strong flavours, I couldn’t taste. I was mostly eating Jamaican food and I couldn’t taste it at all, everything tasted like paper or cardboard.”
The prevalence of COVID-19-induced loss of smell and taste has been indicated in a number of studies.
One recent study conducted by Northwestern Medicine observed a loss of taste in nearly 16 percent of patients while a loss of smell was observed in 11 percent of patients.
The study involved 509 patients whose coronavirus symptoms were so severe as to require hospitalisation.
How should I respond to this symptom?
According to the NHS, if you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), get a test as soon as possible.
“Stay at home and do not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test,” advises the health body.
As it explains, anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also stay at home until you get your result.
A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from one other household.
Other main symptoms include:
A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).