Umm Al-Qura University

Umm Al-Qura University

An Umm Al-Qura Study Recommends Testing the Sense of Smell as a Precautionary Measure Before Returning to Work




An analytical study conducted by the Center of Innovation and Development in Artificial Intelligence (CIADA) at Umm Al-Qura University identified the most common coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, according to the tweets of 270 newly infected cases via the Twitter platform.

According to the supervisor of the CIADA Center, Dr. Eissa Al-Anazi, the study, which comes within the fast stream program that supports scientific research and is funded by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, aims to understand the different aspects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in a wider geographical area and within different environments. The study also aims to assist decision makers to analyze data through social media channels, use the data to raise the efficiency of the management of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and build self-assessment systems adjustable to data inputs and results of data analysis available on Twitter and other social media networks.

Dr. Al-Anzi revealed that the study included the analysis of 900 symptoms for 270 virus infected cases, based on their tweets during the period from 1 March to 27 May 2020 A.C., with 74% of the infected being males and 26% being females.

The study showed that 13% of the patients did not have any symptoms, while 87% of the total target sample showed symptoms. A total of 46% of the sample were Saudi nationals.

The study surveyed the top 10 symptoms of the patients' tweets, fever (59%) being the forefront followed by headaches (43%). The incidence of the loss of the sense of smell represented 39% of the sample, loss of the sense of taste (31%), fatigue (29%), coughs (26%), sore throats (18%), shortness of breath (14%), diarrhea (12%), and runny nose (10%) of the total sample.

The study concluded that 28% of the cases started with a high temperature, while the loss of the sense of smell was the first symptom that 12% of the total sample experienced. The number of people with coronavirus (COVID-19) who experienced the symptoms of the loss of the sense of smell and taste increased last April by 300%, compared to March.

The study recommended that testing for the loss of the sense of smell would be a feasible and effective procedure to include in the precautionary measures agreement upon returning to work or in crowded places. The study also stressed the need to continue to analyze the data collected from Twitter and other social media networks.

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