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Another 134 dead from coronavirus in hospitals across the UK

Another 134 people have died from coronavirus in hospitals across the UK.

The toll was updated after NHS England recorded another 122 deaths in hospitals, Wales another four, Scotland another two, and six in Northern Ireland.

The Government is due to announce its official death toll later today, which will include deaths in care homes and the wider community.

The latest figures emerged after ‘losing your sense of taste or smell’ was officially listed as a symptom of coronavirus.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam announced the change today in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease.

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If the symptomatic person lives with others, they should stay at home for seven days, while all other household members should stay home for 14 days even if they do not have symptoms.

The move means loss of smell or taste will now be listed alongside fever and cough as the main symptoms of Covid-19.

Prof Van-Tam told reporters it would mean 93% of cases where people have symptoms are now picked up, a rise from 91% previously.

It comes after a major study, published last week by Professor Tim Spector at King’s College London, found that people with a positive test result were three times more likely to report loss of smell and taste as a symptom than those who went on to test negative.

He heavily criticised the government’s stance today, saying infected people had been encouraged back to work due to a failure to track symptoms properly.

Prof Spector, head of the department of genetic epidemiology and leader of the Covid symptom study app at King’s, said 50,000 to 70,000 people in the UK with Covid-19 were currently not being told to self-isolate even though they had the virus.

He blamed Public Health England (PHE) and the wider strategy, saying an insistence that only fever and cough were the major symptoms was missing thousands of cases.

Prof Van-Tam said on April 3 that the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) had looked at the issue and concluded loss of smell or taste should not be added to the symptom list.

But in the same month, ENT UK, the professional membership body representing ear, nose and throat surgery in the UK, published guidance to patients saying it believed loss of smell and loss of taste were symptoms of coronavirus and that it had shared these details with PHE.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) listed loss of smell and taste as ‘less common symptoms’ several weeks ago and other countries, including the US, added the symptom.

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