New Delhi: Loss of smell may be the best predictor of COVID-19 among patients with symptoms of respiratory diseases, according to new research.

The findings of two new international studies, published in the journal Chemical Senses, show that there is frequent loss of smell in COVID-19 patients which often lasts for a long time.

Over 4,500 COVID-19 patients from a total of 23 nationalities responded to the researchers' questionnaire.

The studies found that the average loss of the sense of smell was 79.7 on a scale from 0-100, indicating a large to complete sensory loss.

"This emphasises how important it is to be aware of this symptom, as it may be the only symptom of the disease," said Alexander Wieck Fjaeldstad from Aarhus University in Denmark.

The research found that only around half of patients with a loss of smell got their sense of smell back after forty days.

"This differs from the picture we see with other viral infections and causes long-term discomfort for patients, both in relation to food and social contact, while at the same time causing them worry," Fjaeldstad said.

The researchers also found that the sense of taste was also significantly reduced, to 69.0 on a scale from 0-100, adding the remaining sense of feeling in the mouth was also reduced to 37.3 on a scale from 0-100.

"While the loss of smell in itself removes the ability to sense the aroma of food, the simultaneous loss of the other senses make it difficult to register what you're eating. Putting food in your mouth can therefore become a decidedly unpleasant experience," Fjaeldstad added.

The study is of interest both to patients suffering sensory loss as well as clinicians and researchers who work with diagnostics and following-up on COVID-19, the researchers said.

"It shows that the loss of smell is specific to COVID-19, which is both relevant in relation to recognising the infection, and because it indicates that the sense of smell is closely linked to how SARS-CoV-2 infects the body," Fjaeldstad said.

Previously, researchers have based the correlation between COVID-19 and the loss of the chemical senses on smaller studies,. The new studies collected large amounts of data from countries all over the world.

"The results are in line with our own national studies and pave the way for future studies on risk factors for permanent sensory loss, along with a better understanding of the consequences of these sensory losses for the patients, Fjaeldstad said.

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Mumbai: A Mumbai court on Monday issued a bailable warrant against actor Kangana Ranaut after she failed to appear before it in connection with a defamation complaint filed against her by lyricist Javed Akhtar.

The Andheri metropolitan magistrate's court issued a summons to Ranaut on February 1, directing her to appear before it on March 1.

However, Ranaut failed to appear on Monday following which Magistrate R R Khan issued a bailable warrant against her and posted the matter for further hearing on March 26.

A lawyer in the case had earlier informed March 22 as the next date of hearing.

Ranaut's advocate Rizwan Siddiquee argued in the court that the summons and process were issued against Ranaut without following the procedure laid down in law and hence, were "bad in law".

Siddiquee said a petition would be filed in the Bombay High Court challenging the process issued by the magistrate.

Akhtar's advocate Vrinda Grover, however, argued that even if the process is being challenged, Ranaut has to appear before the court as directed, in the absence of any stay on the summons by a higher court.

"It is the accused's right to appeal against the order, or even challenge the proceedings, that no one can deny and no one can stop, not even this court. However, she (Ranaut) has failed to comply with the order of this court and there is also no stay obtained from a higher court,"the lawyer argued.

Grover then filed an application seeking a non- bailable warrant to be issued against the actor. This was opposed by Siddiquee.

Magistrate Khan observed that Ranaut was at the liberty to approach a higher court to challenge the process issued against her, but that would not absolve her from appearing before this court.

The court issued a bailable warrant against Ranaut and posted the matter for hearing on March 26.

Last month, the Mumbai police submitted a report to the court, saying an offence of defamation was made out against the actor.

Akhtar filed the complaint against Ranaut in November last year for allegedly making baseless and false statements against him which, according to him, damaged his reputation.

In his complaint, the lyricist claimed Ranaut had made defamatory comments against him in an interview by dragging his name while referring to a "coterie" existing in Bollywood, following the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June last year.

Akhtar in his plea claimed the baseless comments made by Ranaut had caused damage to his reputation.