How is the coronavirus similar to a cold or flu? How does it differ?
The new coronavirus (AKA COVID-19) is similar to the flu in that they are both viral illnesses of the repository tract. However, they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is a new virus - we haven’t seen it before - and we are learning more about it every day (including about how it transmits and behaves) as more data becomes available.
At this stage, it appears that COVID-19 has a higher mortality rate than most strains of the flu.
The other similarity is the symptoms. The common cold, influenza and COVID-19 can have some similar symptoms like a cough, fever or runny nose. With COVID-19 the symptoms we commonly see are dry cough (shortness of breath is also possible), fever and fatigue. It’s worth knowing that not every sniffle or cough right now will be COVID-19; there are lots of other viruses in Australia in Autumn (like the common cold and influenza) that can cause similar symptoms.
So in short - COVID-19, the common cold and the flu are all caused by viruses. But what we are seeing right now from projections is that COVID-19 causes more deaths than Influenza.
What should you do if you think you have symptoms?
Firstly, if you are unwell with a runny nose/cough- please, please stay away from the workplace/gyms/schools. It’s crucial!
We cannot test everyone for COVID-19 right now due to the availability of test kits. We are testing those who are high risk - for instance, those with a history of overseas travel or those who have had contact with a COVID-19 positive case. Please know we cannot test everyone. If you are concerned, then you should speak to your GP (don’t just turn up at the clinic - call ahead so they can triage or redirect you to protect others), call the coronavirus health hotline or attend a fever clinic. If seriously unwell you should attend an emergency department.
Is there a way to rule out the coronavirus without seeing a doctor?
Not really. We really need a swab to know whether or not you are a confirmed case or not. Like I said earlier, if you are unwell please stay at home right now until symptoms settle.