Thousands left with no sense of smell months after coronavirus recovery

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee

Thousands of people who have suffered from coronavirus have been left with no sense of smell or taste, months after their recovery.

Shannon Strappe from Poole is one of them. In April a test confirmed she'd had coronavirus, but since then Shannon only occasionally gets a hint of her previous senses. 

My partner could cook a lovely curry and to me it just tastes like bland paste. I can't taste anything, its just like chewing something that isn't anything at all. A nice candle, something like that, there's nothing there.

Shannon Strappe

For some, the loss of senses can come on very suddenly and can be the only sign that they have had the illness.

For most people who have lost their sense of smell and taste because of coronavirus it does return after about two weeks.

However for 10% of people, they still don't have their sense of taste or smell after four weeks or more.

It was announced in May that loss of smell or taste would be added to the NHS list of Covid-19 symptoms.

Angela Farrance is hoping her sense of smell will return soon. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Angela Farrance, who lives in Hastings, is also waiting for her sense of taste and smell to return, four months after she was ill.

Angela hopes therapy pots will help train her senses back to normal. 

It's part of your life to be able to eat nice things and smell nice flowers and I just can't so it is a bit sad really.

Angela Farrance

Training to regain sense of smell is not new. The Charity AbScent has been running courses for many years. 

Essential oils can help retrain someone's sense of smell. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Founder Chrissi Kelly lost her sense of smell in 2012 after a severe sinus infection.

She says since coronavirus, her Facebook groups have grown from 1,500 to 11,000 members. 

Chrissi Kelly runs courses for those who have lost their sense of smell. Credit: ITV News Meridian

This is sort of a petri dish of patients who are together and who can speak freely about what they are experiencing, getting mutual support and we can observe exactly what is going on.

Chrissi Kelly, Founder, AbScent

Some of those shared experiences are useful to researchers who are trying to discover how to treat the infection, but for now the loss of taste and smell is a useful indicator that new sufferers could infect others.

Dr Salaj Masand, who works at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, said: "Because the loss of smell is so distinct and so common with Covid-19 then it's a better predictor of whether you've got Covid or not compared to other symptoms. So if you do have a loss of smell then you should isolate yourself for seven days."