COVID-19 Q&A: Part 8

COVID-19 Q&A: Part 8 | Dr. Ali Ghahary

“If I have cold or flu-like symptoms, could it be COVID-19?”
COVID-19 comes with a long list of symptoms – many of which can mimic that of the common cold or flu, such as fever, nasal congestion or runny nose. While it’s very possible you could just have a simple common cold or the flu, it’s also possible that it could be COVID-19 – which is why it’s important to not only get tested if you’re exhibiting any symptoms, but also stay home if you are feeling sick – no matter how mild your symptoms are. Staying home when you’re sick will help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“If the flu vaccine doesn’t protect against COVID-19, why should I get one?”
Influenza is something we have to worry about each year. With COVID-19 expected to coincide with this year’s flu season, this means that healthcare systems could potentially be overwhelmed with having to treat patients with both COVID-19 and the flu. As a result, getting the flu vaccine is important now more than ever. Not only that, but getting a flu vaccine could significantly reduce the risk of developing serious illness as a result of the flu – in addition to decreasing the risk of being hospitalized, and even death. It’s recommended that anyone over the age of 6 months (and those who are considered high-risk, such as the elderly), get the flu vaccine. You can find more information on the flu vaccine by visiting www.immunizebc.ca.

“Why are the elderly more susceptible to COVID-19?”
As you get older, the risk for serious illness – including COVID-19 – increases. This means that the chance for hospitalization (including being placed in intensive care, and/or on a ventilator, as well as death) also goes up exponentially as a result. These risks also increase if you happen to have any underlying medical conditions, such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and other respiratory diseases, diabetes, and more. If you’re in the high-risk category, you should take extra precautions to keep yourself safe – such as only going out for essential items (groceries and medications) and ensuring you’re wearing a mask when you do, washing your hands regularly and avoiding contact with those who are ill – which are measures we all need to take regardless of age.

“What does it mean when someone is an epidemiologically-linked case of COVID-19?”
Someone who is an epidemiologically-linked (or “epi-linked”) case of COVID-19 is an individual who is a close contact of someone who was already a confirmed case of COVID-19, or someone who has lived or worked in a facility where there is a known outbreak of the virus – such as in a long-term care facility.

“When should I get tested for COVID-19 and when should I quarantine?”
Anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 – even if they’re mild – should be tested for the virus, and also quarantine themselves immediately before and following their test. (You can find a testing centre in your area by clicking here.) You should also quarantine if you’re a close contact of someone who has COVID-19. Being a close contact means that you’ve either been within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or longer, provided care to someone who has COVID-19, had direct physical contact with an infected individual, and/or shared eating/drinking utensils with an infected individual. If you’ve been in contact with someone who is infected with COVID-19, you’re required to stay home for 14 days after your last contact with that person.

“Can COVID-19 stay on surfaces? If so, for how long?”
The most common way COVID-19 is spread is through person-to-person contact. However, the virus can also live on certain surfaces for a period of time, such as countertops and other high-touch areas, which is why it’s also important to ensure that you are doing regular cleaning and disinfecting of these surfaces – including countertops, keyboards, tv remotes, telephones, etc. You can learn more about safe cleaning and disinfecting here.