A member of clinical staff wears Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as she takes a swab to test a key worker for the novel coronavirus at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge on May 5, 2020. - NHS services have come under increased strain with the number of a patients hospitalised and requiring critical care because of the COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed over 30,000 lives in the UK. Mass testing has become a key part of the UK strategy in their battle against the virus. (Photo by Neil HALL / POOL / AFP) (Photo by NEIL HALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

THE UK has added the loss of smell and taste to its official list of Covid-19 symptoms including fever and new continuous cough — a step that it hopes could help pick up about 2 per cent more cases of the novel coronavirus.

“From today, all individuals should self-isolate if they develop a new continuous cough or fever or anosmia,” the UK’s four chief medical officers said in a joint statement.

“Anosmia is the loss or a change in your normal sense of smell. It can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked.”

Other possible symptoms of Covid-19 include fatigue, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or loss of appetite, but have not been included in the basic case definition.

By adding anosmia the sensitivity of new case pick-up could increase to 93 per cent from 91 per cent with just new cough and fever, said Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer.

When asked why the UK has lagged other countries in including the loss of smell in its official list, Van-Tam said: “The question is: Which of those symptoms actually make the interception of cases better or worse?”