UK coronavirus variant less likely to impact taste and smell, says ONS

27 January 2021, 10:59 | Updated: 27 January 2021, 11:19

The UK coronavirus variant appears to have less impact on taste and smell
The UK coronavirus variant appears to have less impact on taste and smell. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The coronavirus variant first discovered in the UK is less likely to impact on infected people's sense of taste and smell, new data from the ONS has found.

New data suggests that the symptom of losing taste and smell associated with Covid-19 is "significantly less common" in patients who tested positive for the UK variant compared with others.

People diagnosed with the UK variant were also less likely to be asymptomatic, the data suggests.

However, some other symptoms were found to be "more common" with the new variant, including a cough, sore throat, fatigue, muscle ache and fever.

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Symptoms such as shortness of breath and headaches were found to be as common in all variants.

The findings are part of the ONS's weekly update on its infection survey, which covers the period from 15 November 2020 to 16 January 2021.

Read more: Remembering the victims: LBC callers' moving tributes as UK passes 100,000 covid deaths

Read more: ‘Quarantine hotels’ set to be announced by Home Secretary

It comes as an announcement is set to be made on mandatory hotel quarantine for travellers from Covid hotspots later today.

Home Secretary Priti Patel will make a statement in parliament about border restrictions later today following meetings between top ministers.

The Prime Minister met with ministers on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the proposal for arrivals into the country to quarantine in designated hotels to help stop the spread of new Covid-19 variants.

A number of options are said to be on the table but Whitehall sources suggest the Government may opt for a more limited system after aviation leaders warned that tougher border rules would be "catastrophic" for the industry.

The officials said a less sweeping option would apply only to British residents returning from countries with more contagious strains - such as Brazil, South Africa and Portugal.

It comes as housing secretary Robert Jenrick told LBC that the government "took action at the right time" after the UK reached the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson told the UK he is "deeply sorry" for every life that has been lost to coronavirus in the UK as the country's death toll passed 100,000.

The UK also now has the highest death rate in the world.Nick Ferrari questioned the housing minister on this, asking him: "Where did it all go so wrong?"

"The first thing to say is that behind that very grim statistic are 100,000 people's lives and their families and friends and the deepest condolences of all of us go out to them," Mr Jenrick said.

"We are, as the Prime Minister said last night, very sorry for every life that has been lost during this extraordinary year.

"The Prime Minister also said that we did everything that we could to make sure that we were taking the steps necessary with the information available to us at the time to protect people's lives."

Speaking at a Downing Street press briefing, Boris Johnson pledged to ensure those who had died would be remembered, and said "we will come together as a nation to remember everyone we lost and to honour the selfless heroism of all those on the front line who gave their lives to save others".

Mr Johnson said: "On this day I shall just really repeat that I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost.

"Of course, as Prime Minister, I take full responsibility for everything the Government has done.

"What I can tell you is that we truly did everything we could and continue to do everything we can to minimise loss of life and to minimise suffering in what has been a very, very difficult stage and a very difficult crisis for our country.

"And we will continue to do that, just as every Government that is affected by this crisis around the world is continuing to do the same."