Runny nose, sore throat, fever, headache and muscle aches are the symptoms found in both seasonal flu and COVID-19 virus. People having these symptoms suffer from mild to severe illnesses. Like their identical symptoms, both the viruses spread through droplets and aerosols when the infected persons cough, sneeze or breathe. People can also contract COVID-19 and influenza as they touch contaminated surfaces and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth without washing their hands. People get confused between flu and COVID-19; the latter being considered deadlier than the former but WHO says influenza is also fatal. The cases of seasonal flu, caused by influenza virus type A and B, have dramatically increased in the last two months in Nepal. According to WHO Global Influenza Surveillance Report, over 224 cases of influenza were registered in Nepal during September alone.
Whenever people catch the seasonal flu with severe symptoms, they are worried whether they get infected with coronavirus. It is difficult to differentiate between the symptoms of COVID-19 and seasonal flu.However, if the patients with the seasonal flu suffer from the loss of smell and taste, they are suspected of catching the COVDI-19 virus. Doctors have said that the impact of transmission of influenza virus is normally seen in two days of coming in contact with the infected patient while the effects of transmission of coronavirus are seen in four to six days. They should undergo PCR test to determine which virus they are infected with. The cases of seasonal flu have spiked dramatically this year compared to previous one owing to the disregard to the health safety rules. Last year, the people had to stay under lockdown enforced to prevent and control the pandemic. They strictly followed the prescribed health measures and largely avoided both the infections.
This year, the COVID cases declined and people became careless of health protocols in public places, resulting in the rising cases of flu. Failure to treat influenza causes pneumonia. Health authorities at Teku Hospital have informed that more cases of seasonal flu are reported from February to March and July to September. More than hundred flu cases are reported every week in July, August, and September. Based on the number of flu patients visiting the hospital, the seasonal flu has prevailed in the community in high number this year. The persons suffering from the flu need not worry because they can recover from it without visiting hospital. They should drink increased amount of hot water and soup. But in case of older people, children and those suffering from chronic diseases, there is the need for medication. The patients having seasonal flu should consult physicians if they do not recover within a week.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has urged the general public to follow public health standards to keep coronavirus and seasonal flu at bay. It is essential to frequently wash hands, maintain physical distancing, put on masks and use sanitisers to avoid seasonal flu. In this regard, the WHO has also asked people to mmaintain at least 1-metre distance from others, avoid crowded and poorly ventilated places and settings, cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue and stay home if you don’t feel well. The patients should immediately contact doctors in case they have shortness of breath, loss of appetite, confusion, persistent pain or pressure in the chest and high temperature (above 38 °C), which are the symptoms of coronavirus.