People’s sense of smell and taste may not return for up to five months after Covid-19 infection, Canadian researchers reported Monday.

A team at the University of Quebec surveyed 813 health care workers who tested positive for Covid-19. They ranked their sense of smell and taste on scale from 0 to 10 and some were asked to perform an at-home test to further evaluate these senses.

During initial infection, more than 70% of those taking part in the survey reported losing their sense of smell and 65% reporting losing their sense of taste, the researchers said in preliminary results released by the American Academy of Neurology.

Five months later, when they used an at-home test, 17% of people said they still had loss of smell and 9% of people had persistent loss of taste, the researchers said.

“Our results show that an impaired sense of smell and taste may persist in a number of people with Covid-19,” Dr. Johannes Frasnelli of the University of Quebec, who worked on the study, said in a statement.

“This emphasizes the importance of following up with people who have been infected, and need further research to discover the extent of neurological problems associated with Covid-19.”

The findings of the study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting to be held from April 17 to 22.


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