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Infectious Diseases

Updated 13 March 2020

So you think you have the coronavirus, now what?

Diagnosing and treating the coronavirus as early as possible will be key – especially if you fall into the higher risk category.

You think you may have the coronavirus – what do you do next?

Diagnosing and treating the virus as early as possible will be of great importance. Even more so if you fall into the higher risk categories based on age, existing chronic illnesses, and whether or not your are a smoker.

Context is important though as the symptoms of the virus mimic that of flu or even a common cold.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

– The most common symptoms of the virus are fever, tiredness, and dry cough.

– Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea.

– These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. 

Based on these symptoms, if you suspect a possible coronavirus infection, contact your healthcare practioner.

Besides your symptoms, your practitioner will need important details to help determine the likelihood of infection:

– Where have you travelled to recently? Specifically if you have travelled to an area where there has been a virus outbreak

– Who have you been in contact with, along with locations those people may have travelled to

Your practitioner is compelled to follow the protocols put in place by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the National Department of Health.

In a video on the institute's website, Professor Cheryl Cohen said that they have been following the case since it was just a small cluster of cases and they have released guidelines on how to manage possible cases, which have been widely distributed to healthcare workers in the public and private sector.

"All healthcare workers are aware of the virus, how do patients present, so they'll rapidly pick up any case. Should they identify a possible case, healthcare workers have guidance about how to isolate the patient so that there is no onwards transmission, then how to take the right samples and transport them to the NICD so that we can confirm the diagnosis," said Cohen, who is the Head of Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis.

Should you suspect that you could have the new coronavirus, you are urged to isolate yourself as best as you possibly can and seek medical attention as soon as possible. 

- Don't leave the house other than for medical care - avoid public transport and being in public spaces

- In the home, keep to a specific room and stay away from others

- If possible, even use a separate bathroom

- Also, avoid contact with your animals

Should you test positive for the Covid-19 virus, healthcare professionals will advise if self-isolation is sufficient, along with medication, or if you and those you have been in close contact with should be placed in quarantine.

Continue to practice good hygiene – coughing into the crook of your elbow or a tissue you later flush down the toilet, thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser with an alcohol content of 70% or higher.

READ | Yes, washing our hands really can help curb the spread of coronavirus

READ | Can you spread coronavirus even after you have recovered?

READ | Your 10 most searched coronavirus questions answered 

Image credit: Getty Images