By Indira Aryal Kathmandu, Sept.12: Mona KC, 45, suffered from cough and her body temperature increased for two consecutive days. When she also started sneezing, she feared she might have contracted the novel coronavirus. Similar symptoms were also noticed in her son for a few days. Then, both of them decided to isolate themselves and stayed separately from their eight-member family in Anamnagar, Kathmandu. At first, she thought it was a coronavirus infection but later she concluded it could be a seasonal flu. Their symptoms disappeared within three days of staying in home isolation but similar symptoms were suddenly noticed in her husband. At that time, they did not think of visiting a doctor for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and a check-up. But the symptoms persisted in her husband, who is also a diabetic patient, for a longer time. Finally, they took him to hospital. On the second day in the hospital, the husband tested positive for novel coronavirus. The 8-member family is now staying in home isolation, using separate rooms and bathrooms. At this time of seasonal flu, many people find it difficult to differentiate between seasonal influenza and COVID-19 like the Anamnagar family. Meanwhile, the doctors have suggested PCR test if any symptom of COVID-19 is noticed. Chest Specialist Dr. Niraj Bam at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj, said that ignoring the symptoms of COVID-19 and thinking them as of seasonal flu and staying at home would be suicidal. Nowadays, many people fear to visit the hospitals as the hospitals are already working under pressure with rising number of the COVID-19 patients. All the beds and ICU rooms are occupied. Health care professionals are also worried that flu or other respiratory illnesses could now make them more vulnerable to the coronavirus infection. There have been several cases in which hospitals had denied admitting patients with seasonal flu and those with prolonged respiratory problems. One of such cases was found in Birgunj, in which a patient died after the hospitals denied admitting her. Only after her death, it was revealed that she was not a COVID-19 patient. Many patients seeking health facilities in health institutions were denied the services in the past few months like the case above. Records show that the number of patients has declined to 200 from 3,000 at the TU Teaching Hospital, Maharjgunj, one of the biggest hospitals in Nepal, where patients come from across the country seeking different health care facilities. Dr. Bam said people should not stay at home hiding their problems if they have cough or fever. Director at the TU Teaching Hospital Dr. Rohit Pokharel said that they were receiving only 200 patients a day in the Out Patient Department (OPD) in recent days as some 70 per cent of the patients visiting the hospital used to be from outside the valley. He said that hiding symptoms with the fear of PCR test could be the worst idea which could lead to a serious medical problem. Arrival of flu season amid the fear of COVID-19 is causing fear among the people, Dr. Pokharel said. Many people these days are found taking medical counselling online instead of visiting the hospitals. The Doctors on Call Nepal (DCN), which provides online medical service to the patients, revealed an increase in the patients seeking psychological counseling in recent weeks. Sasrika Basnet, service quality manager at DCN, said that they were providing service to at least 200 patients at home and online counselling services ever since the lockdown was announced. Pulmonologist Dr. Bam said that symptoms of seasonal flu and coronavirus are somehow the same, but the people will have the running nose in the flu. “The COVID-19 has already entered the community, so if one person omits PCR test even after being symptomatic, it may put the whole community at risk,” Dr. Bam said.