UAE Covid: Get tested, symptoms may not be flu, warn doctors

Dubai - Flu and Covid-19 are both highly contagious respiratory illnesses, but they’re caused by different viruses.

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By Nandini Sircar

Published: Wed 24 Feb 2021, 9:38 AM

Last updated: Wed 24 Feb 2021, 10:47 AM

Get tested for Covid-19 if you show symptoms and don't be in denial, ruling out chances of getting infected by the virus while downplaying your illness as influenza, doctors in the UAE have warned.

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Every year as the winter winds down and the temperature starts rising, people know that they may catch a cold -- and seasonal allergy can increase a person’s vulnerability to infections.

But this year, the big seasonal swing starts while we are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As symptoms are notoriously similar – and can vary from person to person – the only way to confirm whether it’s Covid-19 or influenza is through testing.

Flu and Covid-19 are both highly contagious respiratory illnesses, but they’re caused by different viruses.

Dr Rajesh Kumar Gupta, specialist internal medicine, Burjeel Specialty Hospital, Sharjah, said: “Many patients coming to us are confused whether they have common flu or Covid-19. Some patients panic as well. This is quite normal particularly when we are battling a pandemic.”

He added: “But there are many cases, where patients are in denial, thinking there are no chances for them to get infected by Covid-19. These people try to treat themselves without consulting a doctor. In this case, it is likely that these people infect their family members and other contacts. Also, they are likely to develop pneumonia in the later stage causing shortness of breath and worsening their health conditions. So, it is ideal that the person isolates himself and gets a Covid-19 test done within 48 hours. This is because Covid-19 test before 48 hours is likely to be negative even if one is symptomatic.”

Both the diseases can have common symptoms like fever, cough, chills, sore throat, body aches and breathing difficulty. Dry cough and loss of smell and taste is especially seen in Covid-19 cases.

Flu symptoms usually develop within one to four days, whereas Covid-19 symptoms can occur between one and 14 days after exposure to the virus.

Dr Zeeshan Anwar, general practitioner, Aster Al Rafa Poly Clinic, International City, Dubai, pointed out: “A number of patients are coming these days with cold and cough and are pretty much confused and scared that they may have Covid-19. Not everyone with a common cold will have Covid-19. But a person with Covid-19 can be contagious for a longer period of time than flu. A person can be contagious for at least 10 days after the signs and symptoms first appeared in Covid-19. Even an asymptomatic person can be contagious for at least 10 days from the day of the test.”

Dr Zaineb Sabri, specialist internal medicine, Medcare Hospital, Sharjah, opined: “An important way to deal with patients with flu symptoms in pandemic is monitoring how their symptoms progress daily. So, the patients should be aware that if their Covid-19 is negative but their symptoms did not improve or get worse or new symptoms develop within two days’ time, they should repeat the Covid-19 test to be completely sure.”

Precautions against Covid-19 also slow the spread of the flu; therefore, health officials hope continued vigilance could lessen the severity of this year's flu incidence.

Dr Saeed Rizwan, emergency physician, Prime Hospital, summed it saying: “Maintain social distancing, keep your masks at all times and sanitise your hands regularly, vaccinate yourself and your family and consult your health care provider if you have any health concerns.”

Wam file photo
Wam file photo

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