Coronavirus symptoms now include an altered sense of smell or taste

The government has updated its guidance on symptoms and also expanded the testing scheme.
Coronavirus infographic

People who experience a loss or change to their usual sense of smell or taste, have been advised to self-isolate at home under new government guidance.

These sensations, known medically as ‘anosmia’, have been added to the list of suspected coronavirus symptoms. Previously, people were only advised to isolate on the basis of a high fever or continuous cough.

Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, announced the changes on 18 May 2020 based on emerging data on the virus.

Coronavirus symptoms

  • High temperature: you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)

  • New, continuous cough: coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste: you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

You may have one or more symptoms.

Find out more

The individual with the symptoms should self-isolate at home for at least 7 days. Other people in their household should self-isolate for 14 days, to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus, unless the person with symptoms receives a negative test result. If you’re unsure what to do, use the 111 online service or call 111.

Any person aged over five with symptoms, can now request a test under an expansion of the scheme announced by health secretary Matt Hancock, also on 18 May 2020. Before, only key workers or people aged 65 and over could get a test.

People worried about babies and children aged under five should call 111.

Booking a test

When can I request a test?

You need to get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms. It’s best to apply for the test in the first 3 days as it may take 1 or 2 days to arrange.

Where can I have the test?

  • At a regional drive-through test centre, such as one in Oxford
  • At a mobile testing centre, whose locations vary each day
  • At home, using a testing kit sent out to you via Royal Mail or an Amazon courier.

These options might not be eligible every day, depending on demand.

How do I request a test?

Via the NHS website.

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