With all this coronavirus chaos, it’s easy to freak out over a runny nose or sore throat. But doctors say you most likely have the flu, and that’s reason not to panic.
Symptoms of the coronavirus are fairly straightforward: fever, cough, runny nose and shortness of breath. Severe cases may also experience respiratory distress. However, many people with the flu will also have these basic symptoms.
Chances are you don’t even need to see a doctor. Doing so just puts unnecessary strain on our already-choked healthcare system, doctors have said.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told the Today show on Wednesday that only people at-risk should get checked if they notice mild symptoms.
“If you’ve been in contact with somebody who has been diagnosed, if you have been in a high risk area, and you show symptoms, then that is when you should be seeking testing,” he said.
“We are building up so we have got this additional capacity.
“It will be in many ways a challenging time but we have just been through the bushfires.”
Australian citizens returning from China, Iran, South Korea or Italy must also self-isolate for two weeks.
To combat confusion, the Australian Academy of Science has released a video outlining the differences and similarities between the two diseases.
In addition to having similar symptoms, the coronavirus and the flu also spread similarly. Both are transmitted by coughing, sneezing or contact with hands or other contaminated surfaces.
However, the flu has a shorter incubation period, meaning that it can actually spread faster than the coronavirus.
If you must visit a doctor because you believe you have the coronavirus, it is important to call in advance. Low-risk cases should be treated like regular doctor’s appointments, whereas more serious ones must give notice in order for the clinic to properly prepare.
The Australian government has set up an online fact sheet updated daily to keep people in the loop about the disease. A 24-hour hotline has also been established for people who believe they have the coronavirus: 1800 020 080.
Image: AAP / David Crosling