SEOUL, March 25 (Korea Bizwire) — About 15 percent of South Korean coronavirus patients said they lost their sense of smell or taste, a survey showed Wednesday, in a possible indication that loss of smell or taste may be an early sign of virus infection.
According to the telephone survey by doctors in the virus-hit city of Daegu, 15.3 percent of 3,191 virus patients, or 488 patients, said they lost their sense of smell or taste.
It is not unusual for patients infected with a respiratory virus to have such symptoms.
Some experts said it is difficult to assess whether the loss of smell or taste are signs of infection with the COVID-19 virus, which emerged in China late last year.
Jin Beom-sik, a professor of infectious disease at the National Medical Center, said the loss of smell in infected people is common because a respiratory virus can undermine the ability to detect odors.
Some doctors who treated virus patients also reported the loss of their sense of smell, Jin said.
Chung Yong-ki, a professor at Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, said healthy people could also lose their ability to smell.
Chung said more research is needed to determine whether the loss of of these senses may be early signs of COVID-19 infection.
The number of coronavirus cases in South Korea stood at 9,137 on Wednesday, with the death toll reaching 126.