Those who feel symptoms of COVID-19 such as itchy throat, mild cough and colds should isolate immediately and assume they got the pandemic disease instead of the seasonal flu, a doctor specializing in infectious diseases said Wednesday.
Assuming that it's COVID unless proven otherwise by a test, would ensure that the infected individual would not infect anyone outside isolation, especially since authorities are moving to contain a surge driven by the Omicron variant, said Dr. Ana Ong-Lim, chief of the Department of Health's Technical Advisory Group Pediatric Infectious Diseases.
"Kung wala sanang COVID, sasabihin natin na baka nagkatrangkaso lang ako o nahawahan lang ako kasi may kumakalat na virus ng sipon o ubo but unfortunately because itong virus na kumakalat is COVID, we have to assume it was COVID unless proven otherwise," she told TeleRadyo.
The DOH earlier said it would difficult to tell by symptoms alone if a person caught COVID-19 or the flu unless they are tested.
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"We have to assume worst-case scenario, Omicron 'to, nakakahawa, bukod muna and then planuhin ang pagpapa-test para hindi tayo makapanghawa ng iba pang tao sa paligid natin," she said.
"Napakatraydor n'yang sakit," she said. "Hindi pa rin naman nawala ang Delta, nand'yan pa rin 'yan at alam naman natin kung ano nangyari sa Delta, mas marami naospital noon so paano, hindi naman natin malalaman kung ang kakapit sa atin ay Omicron o Delta o iba pa."
If symptoms persist, check if home isolation is possible. Instead of going to the hospital right away, it's best to teleconsult first with doctors, she said.
If you get tested and the results come back positive, check into a quarantine facility. If it's not an option, you could stay at home and prevent interacting with other household members while under quarantine. It means eating alone, wearing face masks even at home, and maintaining at least one meter distance from other family members, Ong-Lim said.
"Kung gumaling ka kaagad, I think mas maganda magpa-clear muna sa doktor bago ka bumalik with your normal activities."
A person with COVID can infect others within a 10-day period, Ong-Lim said. "Additional insurance, antayin mo pa 'yung tatlong araw na wala ka na talagang nararamdaman bago ka lumabas ng isolation, sure na sure na 'yun na wala ka nang mahahawahang iba," she said.