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COVID Toes, loss of smell and preview of our survey results on COVID-safe workplaces

Uncategorized May 09, 2020

Two unusual symptoms to watch out for

The way humans behave is central to the ways in which SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted. Whether it’s a cough or a sneeze or touching something that’s then handled by someone else, we need to change behaviour (and quickly) to minimize transmission in the absence of pharmaceutical interventions. In Australia, as coronavirus restrictions are relaxed and businesses are being encouraged to prepare for reopening, the risks once again loom for fresh wave/s of infection. So, what does COVID-safe awareness look like? Overarchingly, it’s using scientifically and medically valid information to make choices that minimize harm and in the first place, accessing this information and using it for self-education and then applying it for your own and others benefit.

This week, I want to focus some attention on 2 interesting papers. Both of them are about non-fever warning signs that the exposed and then infected individual may go on to develop into COVID-19. Think of today’s livestream as a symptom-checker that relies on 2 recently published papers that I’ll summarise briefly. The first, looks at how the loss of smell is correlated with a positive diagnosis of COVID-19.

Anosmia, is the medical term for loss of the ability to detect one or more smells

If you are having trouble smelling your favourite cologne, perfume or aftershave or even your neighbours bad cooking smells, you should be on the alert.  This strange symptom has been newly linked to COVID-19.


The only good news from the literature on this topic is that the illness appears to be milder in those with smell loss symptoms. 


The second paper reviews an interesting case of discoloured lesions affecting the feet that pre-date fever symptoms and have become known as “COVID Toes”. Whilst there is still much to learn about the transmission and diverse epidemiology seen with this coronavirus, the literature offers us these 2 easy-to-remember considerations that might be useful. The actual papers stress that the case studies are in the main seen in young people. With the race to re-open Schools, it might be prudent to be on the lookout for funny feet or a non-smelly fragrance!

The last part of this livestream will briefly summarise 2 key points from a recent survey into the knowledge and perceptions of direct contact transmission pathways in Australia. We administered this survey to a cohort of Australians, and I’ll give you a very sneak peek since the paper is now at the peer-review stage. I’ll cover the full results in the next few weeks especially as this relates directly to the creation and maintenance of COVID-safe workplaces for both staff and consumers

How the built environment is linked to disease transmission

This will discuss many of the practical implications of non-contact transmission in the built environment.  A great discussion of surface contaminants and how easy this method of pathogen transmission is highlighted in the following paper.

 YouTube Link:


Predictive value of sudden olfactory loss in the diagnosis of COVID-19. Antje Haehner, Julia Draf, Sarah Draeger, Katja de With, Thomas Hummel. medRxiv 2020.04.27.20081356; doi:
Posted May 03, 2020.

Mazzotta F, Troccoli T. Acute acro-ischemia in the child at the time of COVID-19. International Federation of Podiatrists. Available at: Accessed April 27, 2020.

Dietz L, Horve PF, Coil DA, Fretz M, Eisen JA, Van Den Wymelenberg K. 2020. 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: built environment considerations to reduce transmission. mSystems 5:e00245-20. https://

Xing YH, Ni W, Wu Q, et al. Prolonged viral shedding in feces of pediatric patients with coronavirus disease 2019 [published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 28]. J Microbiol Immunol Infect. 2020;S1684-1182(20)30081-5. doi:10.1016/j.jmii.2020.03.021

Watch the Livestream on these new COVID-19 symptoms as well as see some preliminary results about our survey on COVID-safe workplaces


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