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COVID-19 patient in Japan says she 'completely lost sense of smell, taste': interview

A man wearing a mask is silhouetted against a wall as he walks into the shade of a building, on March 26, 2020, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

TOKYO -- A woman in her 50s who has contracted the new coronavirus and is being treated at a hospital recently told the Mainichi Shimbun that she "completely lost her sense of smell and taste" after developing a fever even though she did not have nasal congestion.

The woman from the Kanto region in east Japan spoke with the Mainichi Shimbun via email and social media on March 29, and said she suspected that she had become infected with the virus in mid-March. The woman had come back to Japan earlier that month from a business trip in Europe and a week later started having hip pain and developed a fever with a temperature of about 38 degrees Celsius. She continued to have mildly high temperatures but said she thought it was not a common cold because even though she did not have a stuffy nose, she could not smell or taste anything. She recalled that she couldn't smell the shampoo when she was washing her hair.

She called a coronavirus hotline but couldn't get through, and was told by the local public health center that they did not provide testing, so went to see a doctor at a clinic, where she was diagnosed as suffering a minor form of pneumonia after a CT scan. The woman subsequently got tested at another hospital and the result came out as positive. She was admitted to a designated medical institution one week after developing a fever.

Some COVID-19 patients have been reporting the loss of taste and smell. The woman said she didn't get her sense of taste back until the fifth day of being at the medical facility, while her sense of smell came back on the eighth day.

She told the Mainichi, "I'm in a private room (at the designated medical institution) but I hear coughing (from other rooms). The number of nurses checking up on me has dropped, and it seems like the hospital is becoming more strained. Flexible responses may be required depending on patients' symptoms, such as those showing minor symptoms resting at home (rather than being hospitalized)."

(Japanese original by Mami Yoshinaga, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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