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Is it Covid or flu? Know how some common symptoms can help you differentiate

Sore throat is one of the most common symptoms experienced by patients with Covid-19. On the other hand, it is something that those dealing with the common flu or cold go through. 

A sore throat usually feels dry, painful and scratchy. A patient may also sense thickness in the throat, especially when they try to swallow something.

So, is there any way to differentiate a Covid sore throat from one caused by other illnesses?

There is no definitive answer to this. 

One way to gauge can be how fast the illness is spreading among people in close contact with the patient. 

Experts have pointed out that the coronavirus spreads more easily and quickly than the flu and can cause severe symptoms in some people. 

Also, while some symptoms of the common cold and Covid may overlap, the latter is usually accompanied by shortness of breath, and loss of sense of smell or taste. In addition to this, a sore throat from Covid usually lasts for no more than five days. 

Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had also pointed out some common differences to watch out for between flu and Covid-19. 

Dr Sylvie Briand, the director of WHO infectious hazard management, said flu is very common, especially in this season and usually the symptoms are fever and ache. 

“Muscle ache and also upper respiratory symptoms such as sneezing and coughing are some of the other symptoms,” she said.

For Covid-19, the symptoms are basically similar, but we have additional symptoms such as lack of smell and lack of taste.

“Many people, especially young ones, are experiencing these additional symptoms of Covid-19. But sometimes, people have very few symptoms whether it’s for Covid-19 or flu. It really depends on your level of immunity,” explained Briand. 

Both Covid-19 and flu are spread by droplets and aerosols when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, sings or breathes.

The droplets and aerosols can land in the eyes, nose or mouth of people who are nearby – typically within 1 metre of the infected person, but sometimes even further away.

People can also get infected with both Covid-19 and influenza by touching contaminated surfaces, and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth without cleaning their hands.



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