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Loss of taste or smell common with BA.5 variant, health experts say

Health experts are now reporting loss of taste and loss of smell as symptoms of BA.5 infection, which mirror the earlier stages of the pandemic.

NORFOLK, Va. — The BA.5 subvariant of omicron remain dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States. It makes up nearly 82% of new coronavirus infections, according to the latest reporting from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"Please do not assume this [virus] is gone, it's not," said Hampton Roads cardiologist Dr. Keith Newby, who follows COVID-19 trends closely. He encourages everyone to keep staying cautious, urging up-to-date vaccinations and masks. 

"I tell people, 'Do not get comfortable.' I still have [my mask] and I'm going to wear it every time I go out. With this BA.5 variant, they're saying it's highly transmissible, even in close corners outside," said Dr. Newby. 

With BA.5, health experts also say loss of taste and smell is a popular symptom — much like earlier variants.

"There is some reversion to some of the original symptoms, but you kind of expect, there's going to be some waxing and waning of symptoms as the variants change," Dr. Newby added. "I still see less hospitalizations, I'm seeing less severe disease, definitely less deaths —  comparatively speaking."

However, Dr. Newby told 13News Now what he is finding more of now are longhaulers. "They're having lingering symptoms. It's affecting their jobs, their home environment, work environment."

He said that includes symptoms, such as shortness of breath, brain fog, as well as loss of taste and smell.

An estimated 27 million people, or 5 percent, who have contracted COVID-19 still haven't regained their sense of taste or smell, according to a recent medical analysis published on the BMJ medical journal. 

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