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Your Covid-19 questions answered

Do I have flu or Covid-19?

15 June 2022 - 07:00
Flu and Covid-19 symptoms are similar, says the health department. Stock photo.
Flu and Covid-19 symptoms are similar, says the health department. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/tommaso79

As Mzansi prepares for a cold winter, it seems everyone has the sniffles. The Covid-19 pandemic has made it harder to determine if you’ve come down with flu or have the coronavirus.

The department of health says Covid-19 and flu symptoms are similar, except those with Covid-19 may suffer a loss of taste and smell. 

Similar symptoms between Covid-19 and flu patients include fever, shortness of breath, a runny nose, fatigue, a cough and headache.

Dr Marlin McKay, who runs his own medical practice in Roodepoort, told TimesLIVE the golden rule is: When in doubt, isolate and get medical treatment.

“The impact of missing a Covid-19 diagnosis can be devastating on families because they could continue going out thinking they have flu. My policy is everything is Covid-19 until proven otherwise.

“If you miss a flu diagnosis it is not too bad, but if you miss a Covid-19 diagnosis it can be catastrophic. If that person goes out and infects someone with comorbidities, they could die. I test anyone with symptoms suggestive of Covid-19.”

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) recommends getting both the Covid-19 and flu vaccines. These vaccines should be given at least 14 days apart.

It said vaccinations for both significantly reduce the severity of the virus in the case of infection.

“Influenza, commonly known as flu, kills about 11,500 people every year. Getting the flu vaccine can reduce the chances of severe illness and hospitalisation,” said the NICD. 

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