Flu cases on the rise in UAE; here's how to know it's not Covid-19

As per guidelines, when patients have respiratory symptoms like sore throat, cough, or fever, they should do the PCR test


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Wed 21 Sep 2022, 5:53 PM

Last updated: Thu 22 Sep 2022, 10:38 AM

Doctors in the UAE are witnessing an influx of patients contracting seasonal flu and most of them experiencing mild to moderate symptoms.

Healthcare practitioners have repeatedly urged residents to get themselves vaccinated against the seasonal flu, as they see many patients complaining of fever and body ache at their medical centres. Medics see the maximum number of infections and patients suffering from flu between August to February.

Dr Abhinav Gupta, Specialist Internal Medicine, Aster Clinic, Arabian Ranches, said, “A lot of people are getting infected by flu or are contracting cold in the UAE now due to the change in the climate. The main reason behind this is the growth of certain viruses during this time.”

He said, “In the UAE, you are more vulnerable to catching flu during these months (transition from summer to winter). This is because the influenza virus thrives and proliferates at a higher rate when the air is cold.”

Highlighting that while it’s difficult to clinically differentiate between Covid-19 infection and other viral illnesses based on the symptoms alone, testing for Coronavirus may be the only solution, when in doubt.

One differentiator could be “certain symptoms like loss of sense of smell (anosmia) or taste (ageusia) are seen in Covid-19 infection and rarely occur with flu. However, all patients should be tested for Covid as it is much more contagious than normal flu,” Gupta added.

As per the government guidelines, when patients have respiratory symptoms like sore throat, cough, or fever, they must get tested for Coronavirus.

Dr Prabir Paul, Medical Director, Burjeel Marina Health Promotion Center, Abu Dhabi, said, "To my knowledge, the patients coming to the ENT, pediatric, and family medicine clinics suffer from some respiratory viral or respiratory bacterial infection. This is a normal seasonal variation of flu and respiratory diseases, but they should get a PCR test done. As far as the Covid-19 figures are concerned, there hasn't been an abnormal spike in the cases."

Doctors reiterate it is essential to maintain proper hand hygiene, wear a mask, especially in crowded places, wash hands often and not touch eyes, mouth or nose. They also advise staying away from people who are coughing and sneezing.

Dr Mitchelle Lolly, Specialist Pulmonologist, Prime Hospital, said, “Currently we are living in a very busy world. Falling sick can be due to various physical, mental and environmental factors. Physical factors include inappropriate dietary habits, lack of physical activities, presence of other co-morbid illness and other habits including smoking and use of alcohol. Mental factors mainly include stress and environmental factors include bacteria, virus, pollution.


"Viral infections are usually self-resolving provided we take adequate rest, nutrition and hydration at the time of infection. My advice would be to stay safe by practising SMS that is social distancing, masking and sanitising, and follow an active and healthy life.

“A healthy life would be led with appropriate dietary habits including eating on time, avoiding junk food and adding ample fruits, vegetables with the right amount of protein UPTO 0.8 G / KG / DAY to your diet. An active life could be led by exercise which would be a minimum of 30 minutes of brisk walk at least three times a week.”

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