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With all the hysteria around COVID-19, it may be comforting to assume that a runny nose or headache is simply because of seasonal influenza (Flu) or allergies brought on by the Saharan dust.

However, with all three presenting at times with similar symptoms, internal medicine specialist Dr Joel Teelcuskingh advises that it’s better to assume it’s COVID-19 and not the milder, less serious conditions.

Differentiating between the conditions based solely on symptomatology, he said, could be a “clinical conundrum.”

“These three conditions are remarkably similar and the only way sometimes to differentiate amongst them would be via test,” he said.

Given the current outbreak of COVID-19, the spread of which the country is at ends trying to control, Dr Teelucksingh said it’s safer to assume it’s not the flu or “sinus” to avoid transmitting it on to others.

“Stay at home from work or school if you are ill. So if you have symptoms, contact your healthcare provider and go for a test,” he said.

He said it’s especially important for fully vaccinated people who may experience milder symptoms but still transmit COVID-19.

“The symptoms are different now (because of the Delta Variant)…some persons may just have headaches, lethargy or a runny nose and this may herald infection with COVID-19,” he said.

There are vaccines now widely available locally for both COVID-19 and the seasonal flu which he urged people to take.

He said the COVID-19 protocols such as mask-wearing, hand washing and social distancing will also work to prevent spreading or contracting influenza.