Differentiating symptoms of coronavirus and other illnesses

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Experts say telling the difference between coronavirus and other conditions depends on several factors.

Dr. Melinda Cail, with Primary Health Partners, says symptoms for allergies and colds are similar, with a running nose, sneezing, and no fever.

Flu symptoms include fever, body aches, and coughing.

Coronavirus symptoms also include fever and coughing, but your risk for the disease depends on travel and exposure history.

Dr. Cail says the flu is still a bigger concern right now, but time will tell if coronavirus changes that.

“If you have been exposed to somebody with flu, obviously we would be more concerned about flu. If you had done any recent international travel, then we would be more concerned about coronavirus,” she said.

Most people KFOR spoke with say they’re slightly worried about coronavirus, and some have a general idea how to differentiate symptoms.

“I just heard coronavirus symptoms is difficulty breathing and all that, same as the flu really,” Levi Perry said.

“All I know is it seems to be something pretty serious right now,” Rick Fain said.

“That coronavirus, that’s a take down,” Nathaniel Molden said.

Dr. Cail says while there’s no need to panic, it’s important to be cautious.

“Most people who catch coronavirus are not going to get seriously ill. They’re going to have a cold and they’re going to get better. It’s the other people we worry about,” she said.

That includes the elderly and young children.

If you think you have symptoms, it’s best to call your primary care doctor first. They’ll figure out if you need to be tested.

“If you’re sick, stay home. You should be doing that anyway, but certainly this year. Not because of you, not because of your work, because of the people out there who have suppressed immune systems who you might be putting at risk,” Dr. Cail said.

For now, people are still being cautious.

“I’m going in now to get the hand sanitizer,” Molden said.

Metro hospitals say they are working closely with local health departments and the CDC. 

The protocol for Integris is as follows:

“When a patient presents to one of our facilities, they are asked if they are experiencing any flu-like symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath. If they are, they are given a mask to wear and are asked if they have recently traveled to any impacted areas or been in contact with someone who has. If they have, they are immediately placed into a private room, access to the patient is limited and their care team is required to wear appropriate personal protective gear. The patient is further interviewed and examined. If concern still exists, we will notify the Health Department, who in-turn coordinates with the CDC to determine if the patient should be tested for COVID-19.

If the patient requires hospitalization, they will be placed in an airborne and contact isolation room with eye protection in accordance to CDC guidelines. If the patient is considered well enough to be quarantined at home, they will be monitored by the State Health Department and the CDC once they leave the hospital.

If the patient does test positive for COVID-19, the above entities would begin tracking the patient’s movements to identify the individuals they may have come in contact with before coming to the hospital. Internally, we would be doing the same and would refer those caregivers to Employee Health for monitoring.

If a patient who was sent home to self-monitor later becomes ill and requires hospitalization, that person would choose the hospital in which they wanted to receive care and the Health Department would arrange transport of that patient through EMSA if an appropriate bed is available at that facility. Back at the hospital, the patient would return to isolation with appropriate precautions with our caregivers.”

For more information on the coronavirus, call the Oklahoma State Department of Health COVID-19 Call Center at 877-215-8336.

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