With all the talk about coronavirus, should I go to the doctor if I have a cough?



Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of the coronavirus include:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

The symptoms are similar to those occurring in other illnesses that are much more common in Africa, such as the common cold and flu or more harmful problems like tuberculosis or Tb.


When you should be concerned?

Catching the common cold or the flu may be mildly concerning. But generally, the symptoms associated with these conditions resolve with rest and use of some home remedies.

However, you should be moderately to highly concerned, if having peviously enjoyed good health, you then have a cough with high fever and breathing problems following recent travel to a coronavirus infected area or you suspect or believe you have been in recent contact with someone who has.


Countries with confirmed cases

Coronavirus or COVID-19 as it is now officially called, has been reported in well over 30 countries (see regularly updated map here) with China, Italy, South Korea and Iran having the highest count of confirmed cases in that order. The global confirmed case count is 88,208 as at March 1, 2020, of which 2,994 have died. The majority of deaths have occurred in in China.

Happily, only 1 case each has been reported in three African countries respectively (Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria) to-date with no fatality.


So, what do you do if you have a cough today?

Although your doctor has the most authoritative say, the most appropriate lay advice for anyone in Africa with a recent cough complaint would be as follows:

1. If you normally in good health and have a cough, with mild aches and pains but without significant fever and breathing problems, rest at home and use common home remedies like over-the-counter pain killers (paracetamol), cough syrup and drink plenty of fluids. If your symptoms persist for more than three days, go see your doctor.


2. If however you have recently travelled from areas affected by the coronavirus, or you suspect or believe you may have been in recent contact with someone who travelled to a coronavirus infected area, you should:

  • Stay indoors, rest, drink adequate fluid and avoid contact with other people as you would with a typical flu.
  • Call your doctor to inform him or her of your concern and recent travel to a coronavirus infected area or contact with another person who may have travelled to an infected area as the case may be.
  • Also call your closest public health disease control office and provide them with the same information you gave to your doctor.


Additional information

More up-to-date and accurate information about various aspects of the coronavirus can be found here


Published: March 1, 2020.

© 2020. Datelinehealth Africa Inc. All rights reserved.


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