It was a big picture message: seasonal flu cannot be stopped, while it’s possible that COVID-19 can be contained by isolating infected people, following those who come in contact with cases to see whether they develop illness, and suspending activities that bring together lots of people. But the smaller picture says the actions of individual also matter.
Coronavirus symptoms according to the WHO are:
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Shortness of breath
In severe cases, symptoms become more advanced:
Severe acute respiratory syndrome
Some complicating factors: About 5 per cent of people with COVID-19 report a sore throat and runny nose, while a small percentage also report diarrhoea and vomiting.
The best thing is to avoid getting the coronavirus in the first place, and to minimise the risk of spreading, it by practicing good hygiene: wash your hands regularly, cough into your elbow, and stay home, away from others, if you are unwell.
If you think you might have the coronavirus or flu - and you probably won't know for sure - do not attend a medical centre without calling ahead and speaking to a nurse first, as you may risk spreading it further. However, if you have breathing difficulties, call an ambulance.
Influenza has been widely researched and most Australians are probably already familiar with its symptoms. However, according to WHO, they can include:
Fever (often with abrupt onset)
Older people, young children and people with certain chronic conditions - such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes - are at increased risk for serious complications, including pneumonia.
While COVID-19 distinguishes itself with breathing difficulties or shortness of breath, these too are the more severe symptoms of flu, especially in people prone to respiratory conditions.
"People need not panic in case of any of the symptoms. They should get tested for flu initially, and only in case of negative results, should they undergo 'PCR Throat swab culture', which is used to diagnose COVID-19," said Pulmonologist Puneet Gupta.