Professor Moussa Seydi, head of the COVID-19 patient care in Senegal, said Thursday that “50 percent” of those who tested positive for the virus showed signs of anosmia (loss of smell) and agueusia (loss of taste).By Oumar Dembélé
“50 percent of patients who show these symptoms when tested are found to be infected with COVID-19,” he said in the fourth monthly update on the pandemic.
Four months after the country reported its first case of COVID-19, 7054 people have been infected, 4599 have recovered and 121 had died.
2333 patients are still under treatment.
This epidemiological evolution is considered important by the health authorities, complaining at the same time as many observers about the non-respect of social barrier regulations by the population.
To determine if a person is contaminated “at the beginning, we focused a lot on fever and respiratory signs: sneezing, coughing, breathing difficulties,” Professor Seydi explained, adding that “each day that passes shows us that several types of signs can be observed related to the attack of one or more body systems.
Two signs, however, caught his attention.
These are anosmia and agueusia, the loss of smell and taste.
“More precisely, a disorder of the perception of the taste of what’s salty, sweet, bitter, acidic” he said.
He added that these “evocative” signs of Covid-19 are not “specific” to this disease because they can be found “in flu and other pathologies.
However, he recommended that people who have these symptoms should “isolate themselves to avoid contaminating those around them but also to seize the alert cell” of the Health Ministry.
The health authorities have decided to focus on vulnerable and symptomatic people in the management of Covid-19.
Asymptomatic people will no longer be tested and “home care” will be reinforced, according to Dr. Abdoulaye Bousso, Director of the Centre for Emergency Health Operations (COUS).
Chloroquine, more effective than ever
The aim is to relieve congestion in the treatment structures and rationalise treatment budgets, estimating that “more than 200 people” have been cured at home between Dakar and Diourbel (centre).
Prof. Seydi also praised the effectiveness of the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin in the treatment of patients.
“Among the 838 patients included in our analysis (last time it was 559), we have 727 patients aged over 12. The results we obtained on the use of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin were further confirmed with this larger series,” he said.
He also pointed out that the median length of hospitalization from 10.5 days previously is reduced to 10 days compared to 12 days for patients who did not take this treatment.
The health experts insisted on respect for social distancing regulations even if in many districts of the Senegalese capital, populations do not seem to fear the disease.
It is common to see people there neglecting to wear masks.
In public transport, law enforcement officials monitor the effectiveness of this recommendation, at the risk of getting the passenger out of the car.
However, in many places where the public is welcome, social distancing rules are difficult to enforce.
Meanwhile, three days ago President Macky Sall lifted the state of health emergency and the related curfew to allow the economy to recover.
In his address to the nation broadcast Monday night from his home in Mermoz, where he is under self-isolation after being in contact with COVID-positive persons, he insisted on the “mandatory” and proper wearing of masks.