All OPDs in private and government hospitals are shut in view of the Coronavirus scare. As such, it is difficult to visit a doctor to take medical advice if one has flu-like symptoms.
In fact, medical practitioners say that a person with such symptoms should not visit any physician because if it happens to be a mild symptom of COVID-19, it can infect the doctors as well. The doctor can further become a source of infection.
Here is what you can do if you have flu-like symptoms:
Isolate yourself: The first and foremost step you should take with any flu-like symptom is to isolate yourself. It means that you should not maintain any physical contact with any person and stay inside. The person should wear a mask, maintain great personal hygiene and stay in a well-ventilated room without any air-conditioning. Studies have shown that ACs aggravate the infection.
Doctors say that the only available treatment for COVID-19 is isolation. So whether it is a common flu or mild Coronavirus infection, isolation is the best cure initially.
Consult a doctor through phone/Video Chat/Apps: The next step is to consult a doctor through phone or video chat. Hospitals have started online OPDs and many companies have launched mobile applications through which one can access a doctor or a specialist.
The Medical Council of India has also permitted consultation through digital means. Do what your doctor advises you to do.
“If your doctor advises for a COVID – 19 test, ask for an e-prescription as no lab will conduct any test for Coronavirus infection until you present a doctor’s prescription,” Arjun Dang, CEO, Dr Dangs Lab, suggests. However, if those people, who have returned from abroad of late, develop any mild symptom like sore throat, cold etc, they should disclose their travel history to the doctor and immediately get themselves tested.
Check ICMR website for Testing Labs: Your doctor can tell you where to go and get tested. Besides, you can contact the Chief Medical Officer of your district whose number is available on the respective district’s website. You can also check the Indian Council of Medical Research’s website which has provided a list of 204 labs (139 government labs and 65 private labs) across the country.
One can select the nearest lab and check the process that it follows for testing. While government labs don’t charge any money, the government has fixed the testing cost at Rs 4,500 in a private lab. Now after SC's direction to the government to make testing free of cost, the government will have to issue a circular in this regard.
You can visit the lab or paramedic staff from the lab can visit your house and collect the swab sample. While private labs declare the result in 24 to 36 hours, government labs take over 48 hours.
Inhale steam, take vitamin C and Citrus fruits: While the result is awaited, take a lot of green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, fluids which include tea, coffee, juice, coconut water etc which helps boost the immunity.
“Always take lukewarm water and inhale steam regularly. The studies have shown that the virus stays in the throat for initial two days, so steam and lukewarm water help to contain the infection,” Anurag Bhargava, former Chief Medical Officer, Noida, says.
What to do if you test positive for COVID-19: The moment any lab (government or private) finds that a person has been diagnosed positive, it informs the CMO of the district first before communicating it to the patient. An ambulance is sent to his house and he is admitted to a hospital, dedicated to COVID-19 patients. The patient is put in an isolation ward for 14 days. Doctors say that patients should not panic at all as COVID-19 is not a deadly disease but a highly contagious one. It has a very high recovery rate in India.
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