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Experts Warn Of 'Twindemic' This Winter Season: Know The Difference Between Covid-19 And Flu

Experts Warn Of 'Twindemic' This Winter Season: Know The Difference Between Covid-19 And Flu

As influenza (flu) and Covid-19 share some common symptoms, one can be easily mistaken for the other. Here's how to tell the difference between them.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : October 12, 2021 10:52 AM IST

As the festival season begins in India, several government officials and health experts have appealed to people to avoid going out and celebrate the festival at home to prevent surge in Covid cases. Warning that Covid-19 containment measures can be derailed if the festivals are not observed in strict adherence to the health protocol, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Saturday asked states to make sure they follow Covid protocols very strictly. Medical authorities of the states were also told to speed up vaccination so that India can achieve administering 100 crore vaccine doses in the next few days. Though the number of cases in most states has declined significantly, experts have weighed in on the possibility of the arrival of third wave in India, as human behavior cannot be predicted.

Meanwhile, health experts in the US have warned against the possibility of "twindemic" of Covid-19 and flu this coming winter season. Implementation of Covid-19 preventive measures like wearing masks, social distancing and staying home, helped stop the spread of flu and other common respiratory viruses last season, but infectious diseases experts fear that flu season could come roaring back and strain hospitals in the months ahead, a CBS News reported on Monday.

Health officials have reportedly urged Americans to get their flu shots. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already announced flu vaccination efforts. The World Health Organization (WHO) had also stressed the importance of getting flu shot amid COVID-19 pandemic suggesting that anti-flu vaccinations may also help prevent the risk of coronavirus complications.

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Flu or Covid-19? How to tell the difference

Influenza (flu) and Covid-19 are caused by contagious viruses that cause respiratory illness. While flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses, Covid-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, which was first identified in 2019. According to US CDC, Covid-19 appears to spread more easily than flu.

As these viral infections share some common symptoms, one can be easily mistaken for the other. Below are common symptoms that Covid-19 and flu share:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Change in or loss of taste or smell, although this is more frequent with COVID-19.

Compared to flu, Covid-19 can also take longer to show symptoms and infected people can be contagious for longer. In flu, a person usually experiences symptoms anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection, while Covid-19 symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

Both COVID-19 and flu can result in complications, such pneumonia, respiratory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis, multiple-organ failure, secondary infections and inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues.

However, Covid-19 can cause more serious illnesses than flu in some people. COVID-19 is also associated with specific complications such as: blood clots in the veins and arteries of the lungs, heart, legs or brain; multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and in adults (MIS-A).

One can also be infected with both flu and Covid-19 at the same time and have symptoms of both the viral diseases, the CDC said in its website.

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