It is difficult to differentiate the flu from coronavirus and vice versa as they share some of the same symptoms.
As they share some of the same symptoms, it is difficult to tell the flu from coronavirus and vice versa. Experts are concerned that a rise in flu cases in the coming months due to seasonal changes may be a new challenge in curbing the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the world. Turkey has recorded improvement in its fight against the outbreak and now considers charting a new route as a precaution during the flu season. Professor Serap Şimşek Yavuz, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, says the ministry’s laboratories are working on the development of a new test. The test will allow doctors to take a single sample from patients and diagnose whether the person is infected with COVID-19 or the flu, thus removing the blurred line between the two illnesses.
Turkey registered 1,632 more COVID-19 patients and 1,314 new recoveries in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday. Turkey's patient count to date now stands at 338,779, with recoveries totaling 296,972, according to ministry data. Some 114,992 more tests were conducted over the last day, raising the total to over 11.84 million. The death toll from the virus reached 8,957, with 62 more fatalities. The figures also showed that the number of patients in critical condition currently stands at 1,416, with 5.9% this week suffering from pneumonia.
Yavuz says flu cases were lower in the southern hemisphere but the more crowded north “may not be that lucky.” She told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Wednesday that the outbreak which broke out in Turkey in March led to a delay in the data analysis of flu cases. “It is expected that flu cases will be relatively lower if we stick to measures we took against COVID-19, namely, wearing masks, staying away from crowds and being careful about the distance between us. COVID-19 and the flu have similar features of infection though the former is more infectious. Still, we need further disease surveillance,” she said.
The test to differentiate the flu from COVID-19 will be administered by nasal swab. “Their symptoms resemble each other after all. One has a more severe impact on breathing while the other causes more nasal drainage. But one symptom is not sufficient to detect the difference. We need more to diagnose it correctly. People should also not panic when they experience pain in their throat, for instance, as it could be the flu. So, it is best to have a test based on a single sample. We hope the test will be available soon before the flu season,” Yavuz said.
Before an anticipated flu season, people tend to flock to get vaccinated against the seasonal illness.
Yavuz urges the public to be considerate toward each other saying: “The priority for flu vaccines is certainly for people in the risk group. We see an unprecedented demand this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If your supplies are limited, you have to prioritize people at risk like senior citizens and those with chronic illnesses. If you are young and have no serious illness, you should not push for a vaccination,” she said.
‘MOST SHAKING DISEASE’
COVID-19 is worse than even the most severe flu. Zekayi Kutlubay learned by experience. “I had the most severe form of flu before, but this is the disease that most shook me,” said Kutlubay, who serves as chief physician of Cerrahpaşa Faculty of Medicine Hospital of Istanbul University. The hospital he chairs is at the front line against the pandemic in a city that remains a COVID-19 hot spot.
Following his positive diagnosis and a period of self-isolation, Kutlubay recovered and was back in the line of duty within a few weeks. “I have been dealing with COVID-19 patients since March and was certain that I would be infected at some point. When two staff members at the dermatology department tested positive, I decided to have a test. The first one was negative, but when I started having headaches, body aches and coughing, I had another one and was found to be positive. I was in quarantine at home for two weeks and consumed all kinds of medicine to counteract the virus. The first week was painful. I was coughing and had immense pain in my waist. Then came the loss of taste and smell and severe headaches. After my last two tests turned negative, I decided to return to work.” He said he counted himself lucky for not requiring intensive care treatment. "Nothing has shaken me as much as this disease. I was so tired and could not focus on anything. I kept thinking if it hit me that hard, what people in intensive care must be going through," Kutlubay added.
He urges people to exercise caution and be vigilant in their protective measures. “We are seeing more positive patients and people around us getting infected. Until an effective drug and vaccine is discovered, we have to fight COVID-19. You should be careful or you could be the next patient,” he warns.