Cold or flu-like symptoms are likely Covid-19, Sciensano virologist warns
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Cold or flu-like symptoms are likely Covid-19, Sciensano virologist warns

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The onset of certain symptoms at the moment is more likely to be due to the new coronavirus than to the flu, a top health official in Belgium’s said on Monday.

“At the moment, there is no flu virus circulating, and [there are] few other viruses,” Steven Van Gucht, a virologist at federal health institute Sciensano said in the daily coronavirus press conference.

“Therefore, there are high chances that your symptoms are due to the coronavirus,” he added, urging anyone who experienced symptoms to take precautions, as soaring infection rates on Monday saw Belgium emerge as the second hardest-hit country in the EU.

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“Certain symptoms are very typical of Covid-19,” Van Gucht said. “When they appear, you should immediately think of Covid-19, if you have one of these symptoms, you should stay at home and see your doctor.”

The Sciensano official said the onset of even one of the following symptoms, all very specific to the coronavirus, should be seen as a red flag: a sudden loss of taste and/or smell, a dry cough, chest pain and difficulty breathing.

Loss of smell and taste is “one of the first symptoms that people develop,” Van Gucht said, adding that the cough typical to the coronavirus “came on suddenly and was often a dry cough.”

In cases where other symptoms, less specific to Covid-19, are developed, Van Gucht said that the appearance of at least two was reason enough for concern.

Such symptoms include a fever, a runny nose, a general flu-like feeling, muscle pain or weakness, sudden and severe fatigue, a lack of appetite, a headache, diarrhoea or a sore throat.

“For example, if you have a snot nose and a sore throat or if you have sudden fatigue and a sore throat, that is reason to be concerned,” he said.

In people who already have a pre-existing or chronic lung or respiratory condition, a sudden worsening of symptoms should also raise the alarm, as well as a general state of confusion among older people.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times