Since the past few months, the world has been experiencing a critical situation. In this period, it is very important to be able to distinguish between flu and coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19).
Both flu and COVID-19 are viral infectious diseases. Flu refers to a common viral infection but COVID-19 is quite different than this.
The influenza virus is the cause of the flu. The influenza virus is of two types – influenza A and influenza B. Additionally, influenza A is of various subtypes.
The name ‘Corona’ arises from the crown-shaped structure of the virus. This structure is due to the presence of protein spikes on the surface of the virus. The SARS-CoV-2 viral infection is responsible for COVID-19. It is believed that the virus has spilled over from animals to humans in the city of Wuhan, China in 2019.
Symptoms of COVID-19
The primary difference between flu and COVID-19 is the incubation period. While the incubation period for flu is 1 to 4 days, the same for COVID-19 is 1 to 14 days. Due to this, the symptom onset for flu is abrupt and COVID-19 is gradual. This gradual onset poses difficulty for the diagnosis of the latter as the patients remain asymptomatic for a longer period.
While these two infectious diseases have some common symptoms, such as fever, fatigue & cough, symptoms such as shortness of breath and respiratory issues are common in COVID-19 but not in flu. In severe cases of both the diseases, the patients may get infected with pneumonia. Additionally, upper respiratory symptoms, such as the runny nose, which are very common in flu are quite rare in COVID-19.
Both flu and COVID-19 can be transmitted through direct physical contact of one person with another. The virus can be transmitted in the form of tiny droplets, usually through coughing and sneezing. Although the flu virus can be transmitted from one person to another over a distance of 6 feet, COVID-19 transmission can be prevented by maintaining a social distance of about 3 feet from other people.
The severity of COVID-19 is much higher than that of the flu. While COVID-19 does not distinguish people based on their age, flu is more commonly affects children than adults.
The vaccine for flu can help prevent infectious diseases along with limiting their complications. Paracetamol along with rest and fluid intake has proven to be helpful to cure the symptoms.
To date, there has been no vaccine or medicine approved for the treatment of COVID-19. Hence, everyone across the globe needs to join hands together and be safe from this dreadful disease.
It should be noted that as these diseases are viral infections, antibiotics would be of little or no help against fighting these infections.
Vaccination prevents flu quite effectively. There are various strains of influenza depending on the season, which can be responsible for the disease. The vaccine components are selected according to the strains of the influenza virus present.
The absence of a vaccine or any medical treatment in this crucial period leads to the need for the people to practice appropriate preventive measures.
The following are some of the preventive measures which every individual should practice:
- Wash hands regularly according to WHO guidelines
- Avoid touching face
- Maintain personal hygiene – keep surfaces clean
- Maintain social distance from others – at least 3 feet
- Avoid crowds and gatherings
- Cover the mouth while coughing or sneezing
- Stay Home, Stay Safe
During this grave time, every one of us should do our best to prevent further spread of this infectious disease. This infection can spread from a single person to many other people, depending on the location. Hence, maintaining social distance and personal hygiene is key to prevent COVID-19.
We all can fight this pandemic together!