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Over 25% of COVID-19 patients in west Japan pref. lost sense of taste or smell: poll

This Aug. 3, 2020 image taken in the city of Nara shows coffee and chocolate, which are commonly reported items that individuals claim to lose a sense of taste or smell of after contracting the novel coronavirus. (Mainichi/Satoshi Kubo)

NARA -- In the western Japan prefecture of Nara, over one-quarter of those infected with the novel coronavirus in the two weeks leading up to Aug. 2 had reported commonly cited symptoms of a loss of taste or smell, according to data released by the prefectural and local governments.

    Losing a sense of taste or smell is one commonly cited symptom said to appear when one contracts the novel coronavirus. Material disclosed by other prefectural governments also shows that among the infected in other areas, there are many residents who have also developed this symptom. The figures for residents in Nara Prefecture include those who claimed that they lost a sense of both taste and smell, as well as those who lost a sense of either one.

    A total of 107 infection cases were confirmed in Nara Prefecture during the two weeks between July 20 and Aug. 2, based on announcements made by the Nara Prefectural Government and the municipal government of the city of Nara. Among the infected individuals, at least 26%, or 28 people, stated symptoms of losing their sense of taste or smell. On Aug. 1, which saw the highest single-day record of 19 cases, five people reported symptoms of losing a sense of both taste and smell, while another three people claimed losing only one of these senses.

    According to the prefectural and city governments, local public health centers had gathered responses such as, "I couldn't taste anything at all even though I ate my favorite treat of chocolate. It felt like eating a block," "I suddenly couldn't smell the scent of coffee anymore," and "Curry doesn't taste spicy at all," during their questioning of COVID-19 patients. Those who could no longer taste or smell coffee or curry, as well as those who couldn't sense the taste of sweet treats like chocolate apparently formed the majority of individuals who lost these senses.

    According to the disclosed material, many patients first develop symptoms of fever and fatigue, and report a loss of taste or smell after a few days or more have passed. There are a number of cases where individuals who had initially rested at home thinking they caught a cold later developed symptoms of a loss of taste or smell and visited a hospital for outpatient examinations, realizing they could have contracted the virus.

    (Japanese original by Satoshi Kubo, Nara Bureau)

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