Covid in the UAE: Doctors urge those with high fever to get tested for 'flurona'

Patients having a temperature above 39°Celsius may be infected with both influenza and the coronavirus at the same time


Nandini Sircar

Published: Sun 9 Jan 2022, 4:10 PM

Last updated: Mon 10 Jan 2022, 12:19 AM

Doctors in the UAE are urging people to get themselves tested for both influenza and Covid-19 if they have a fever above 39°Celsius, experience chills, sore throat, runny nose, or nasal congestion with severe body pain, as such patients may have 'flurona'.

Doctors warn that the dual infection of Covid-19 and influenza can cause breathing difficulties since both attack the upper respiratory tract.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), co-infections such as Covid-19 and flu are not uncommon when there is a strong transmission of such pathogens in communities.


Dr Kiran Kumar, Specialist - Centre for Internal Medicine, Thumbay University Hospital said, "Flurona is a dual combination infection with Coronavirus and Flu (Influenza) Virus."

Dr Gunjan Mahajan, a specialist clinical pathologist at Medeor Hospital, Dubai said, "Cases are being reported around the globe, and they are likely to grow due to the cases of the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus surge this winter across the world. While the word is relatively new and rising in popularity, cases of flu and coronavirus co-infections are not."

Doctors explain Flurona can blunt antibody responses, and it may take longer to clear the viruses when someone is infected with both influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2 at the same time.

It is also likely that these co-infected people might not develop long-lasting immunity to be protective during future exposure.

Mahajan adds, "Both infections can be fatal, although the severity of each diagnosis depends largely on an individual's immune system. In a hospital setting, testing 'for not just Covid but for the whole respiratory panel' might increase, which could lead to confirmation of flurona cases. However, the testing for such cases is only done when a patient is sick enough to need medical care."

According to the World Health Organisation, both viruses are transmitted similarly through droplets and aerosols that can be passed on by coughing, sneezing, speaking, or breathing. This is why masking to protect others is widely encouraged.

"The most effective way to protect yourself from both influenza and severe Covid is to get vaccinated with both influenza and Covid vaccines", adds Mahajan.

Dr Kiran Kumar, Specialist - Centre for Internal Medicine, Thumbay Hospital said, "Flurona is a dual combination infection with Coronavirus and Flu (Influenza) Virus. Both the viruses cause respiratory infection and patients present with Fever, Headache, Myalgias, Running Nose, Sore Throat and Cough. Some may even have abdominal symptoms such as diarrhea."

Dr Zainab Ali Asghar, a specialist in family medicine at Al Futtaim - Health Hub Clinic Al Nahda Branch, said, "Patients who present themselves with high-grade fever above 39 degrees Celsius, fever with chills, sore throat, runny nose or nasal congestion with severe body pain should test for both Covid-19 as well as influenza."

"My advice is people stay vigilant about any possibility of influenza infection concurrent with Covid-19 and everyone should get their annual flu vaccine especially those with comorbidities such as diabetes, asthma or have immunocompromised status to prevent mortality from the 'twindemic' in this current situation."

Experts also opine that one of the differences between the two is that people infected with Covid-19 sometimes take longer to display the symptoms.

Dr Syed Nadir, Medical Director and Head of Medical Department at Adam Vital Hospital says, "Initially wearing of masks helped to prevent the spread of influenza (flu virus), but as things started opening up and the trend of mask-wearing decreased flu virus cases also increased. Unfortunately, both the viruses have the same symptoms as fever, cough, runny nose, sneezing. The only difference is that persons who are infected with Covid-19 take longer to experience the symptoms as compared to flu virus."

Nadir later says, "In case of the flu virus symptoms appear in one to four days after being infected whereas in Covid-19, it might take 14 days for the symptoms to appear after infected. WHO still advises us to do testing for close contacts and as soon as the symptoms appear. Being infected with the Flu virus and Covid-19 together can have a severe negative impact on a person's immune system."

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