A day or two ago, Norman Swan came down with a sore throat and a fever.
The ABC health broadcaster, who’s been covering the novel coronavirus pandemic since it began, tried not to jump to conclusions.
But like many Australians with cold or flu-like symptoms at the moment, he had to consider whether it could be COVID-19.
“Normally I would just say I’ve got the flu and take some paracetamol and some warm tea and honey, which is my favourite cure for a sore throat, and ignore it,” Dr Swan said.
“But of course you can’t ignore these symptoms these days.”
He immediately self-isolated, then called his GP, who decided that Dr Swan’s high fever meant it was worth giving him a test.
Dr Swan met his GP in the surgery’s car park to minimise exposure.
“Then he gives me the killer line which is ‘you’re going to have to do this on yourself’. I thought ‘you have to be kidding me’,” he said.
The GP didn’t have the required personal protective equipment to perform the test safely himself.
“So I had to lie back and stick the swab right to the back of my throat and swirl it around.”
If you, like Dr Swan, have woken up feeling crook in the last few days, the odds of you having COVID-19 are still much lower than getting the common cold or flu.
But if you’re concerned about your symptoms, here’s what you should do next.
Check your symptoms
You can check your symptoms using the healthdirect Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptom Checker.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever (any temperature over 38C) and a cough.
Some people also report a sore throat, shortness of breath, fatigue, aches and pains, headaches, and a runny or stuffy nose.
Symptoms can range from a mild illness to pneumonia.
Some people have relatively few symptoms if any, or display no symptoms when they first contract the virus.
Suddenly losing your sense of smell can be a symptom of COVID-19, or a sign that you’ve got a severe cold or very bad allergies.
And that’s one of the confusing things about this coronavirus, its symptoms can be similar to what you would expect if you were coming down with a cold or the flu.
Do I need to get tested for COVID-19?
Due to the shortage of COVID-19 testing kits, Australia is currently undertaking a targeted testing regime instead of widespread testing.
According to the Federal Department of Health, currently in order to be tested for COVID-19 you need to meet the following criteria:
- You have returned from overseas in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness with or without fever
- You have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness with or without fever
- You have severe community-acquired pneumonia and there is no clear cause
- You are a healthcare worker who works directly with patients and you have a respiratory illness and a fever
Due to concerns about possible community transmission of coronavirus in Sydney and to a lesser extent in Melbourne and south-east Queensland, the Australian Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said testing criteria in those areas has been broadened.
“[This is] to make sure that we can detect and bring under control,” Professor Murphy said last night.
That means that someone with an illness consistent with COVID-19 in an area with an elevated risk of community transmission should be tested, even if they haven’t recently returned from overseas or had contact with a confirmed case.
Where to get help
You don’t need to leave home to seek medical attention, unless your symptoms are severe, such difficulty breathing. In this case you require urgent medical help and should call triple-0.
You can call the National Coronavirus Helpline for further information on COVID-19 on 1800 020 080. It’s operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
From today, you can access bulk-billed telehealth consultations with a GP and other health professionals, provided you’re in Australia, eligible for Medicare and not already in hospital.
In most cases it’s still possible to visit your local GP for a face-to-face consultation, but you need to call ahead to make an appointment and let them know you think you have COVID-19 symptoms so they can prepare for your arrival.
The Federal Government is also establishing 100 GP respiratory clinics to assess people…
Source Website Dr Norman Swan’s been tested for coronavirus. Here’s what to do if you have COVID-19