27 Mar 2020

Loss of taste and smell only symptoms for Covid-19 positive New Zealander

2:32 pm on 27 March 2020

A New Zealander who has tested positive for coronavirus says her only symptoms are a loss of taste and smell.

Patient samples at a safety workbench for coronavirus testing.

Photo: AFP

Ear, Nose and Throat surgeons in the UK report significant numbers of patients with Covid-19 in South Korea, China and Italy lost their sense of smell.

Nicole, 24, said she felt she had a cold when she returned from Manchester in Britain on Saturday afternoon, but she had no symptoms of coronavirus and was cleared at the airport when she arrived to go home into self-isolation.

She said she went to bed early but woke up a couple of hours later shaking and feeling sick. Nicole said she then tried to call Healthline but was put on hold for about an hour and a half and ended up falling asleep before she got through.

She put the incident down to jetlag, but noticed the next day that she had lost her sense of taste and smell, although she did not have a blocked nose.

"I had never lost my sense of smell and taste like that before, like it's completely nothing, I think I've had a cold where you slightly lose your taste.

"But with this I could hold a bottle of perfume right up to my nose and not smell anything and zero taste at all."

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Nicole said she still did not consider coronavirus at that point because she did not have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus such as a fever or persistent cough.

She had no idea that what she thought was a cold could be Covid-19, until she heard a Health Ministry media conference where the loss of taste and smell were identified as possible symptoms of Covid-19.

Nicole then called Healthline and subsequently tested positive for Covid-19. She is now isolating herself in her Wellington flat.

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