Do I have the new coronavirus? How to proceed if you have a suspicion

Do not go to your doctor or to the hospital.

Disinfection gel placed in a corridor of the University of Economics in Bratislava building. Disinfection gel placed in a corridor of the University of Economics in Bratislava building. (Source: TASR)

More cases of the coronavirus infection can be expected in Slovakia after the first persons were diagnosed this and last week.

The key to coping with the epidemic will be for people to observe the measures taken by health care authorities and avoid burdening the health care system as well as threatening themselves and their surroundings.

The cases of people who threatened health care workers and other patients with their negligence were spotted in the first days after the coronavirus was first diagnosed in Slovakia.

If you are worried you might have come into contact with the new coronavirus, do not underestimate the situation. Yet respect the fact that the capacities of doctors, nurses, hospital beds and diagnostic labs are limited. Be patient if your condition is not serious.

How should you proceed to make sure you and people in your surroundings are safe?

What do I do after I return from abroad?

Keep track of your health condition in the 14 days after your return from abroad, regardless whether you have been to the area with confirmed COVID-19 occurrence.

Particularly watch out for symptoms like dry cough, fever, or problems with breathing.

If you have visited places with a relatively high occurrence of coronavirus infections or you have been in touch with a person who has been diagnosed with the virus, isolate yourself for preventive reasons:

  • work from home and via teleconferences
  • stay in a room separate from other household members
  • wear a protective mask when moving around the household
  • be consistent with hand hygiene, cough and sneeze only into disposable napkins that you trash immediately
  • disinfect surfaces and objects in your households
  • air the room often and generously
  • if the household only has one bathroom and toilet, be the last one to use it
  • do not share dishes, towels and other items of daily use
  • if you have ordered food or goods delivery, pay cashless and ask the courier to leave the package on your doorstep
  • you should avoid coming in contact with pets during isolation.

You can end the isolation after 14 days if you have not had coughingfever, and respiratory difficulties.

What if I suspect I have contracted the virus?

Stay at home. Do not put other people, patients and doctors under threat by taking a trip to the hospital or the doctor's waiting room without a prior phone consultation.

It is reasonable to suspect you have been infected if:

  • you have been in touch with a person who tested positive
  • you have visited a country where the coronavirus is spreading in the last 14 days
  • you have been in contact with a person who has visited a country where coronavirus is spreading in the last 14 days.

If you do not meet any of these points, it is probable you are suffering from another acute respiratory disease. These illnesses can be dangerous too and you should not underestimate them. It's better to stay at home and inform your doctor about your symptoms.

If you do meet one of the three anamnesis examples mentioned above, and symptoms like cough, fever, breathing difficulties, throat, head, joints pain occur within 14 days, stay at home and contact your doctor or the rescue service on the phone. Inform them truthfully about your stay in a risk area and the symptoms you are suffering from. The doctor will decide how to proceed in your case.

With the growing number of infections the phone lines can be expected to be jammed and you might not be able to reach the doctor immediately.

Most people who contract the virus only feel mild symptoms resembling the flu, only a small part of cases ending with a pneumonia.

Based on the development so far of the epidemic it is reasonable to expect most people to recover at home without difficulties. You can apply over-the-counter medicines for the cough and pain.

When do I need to call for help?

A temperature of 38 degrees Celsius is the decisive factor for the transport of a patient suspected of COVID-19 infection.

If your temperature is under 38 degrees, remain isolated at home even if you have a positive travel anamnesis. You should keep in touch with your doctor, who should be checking on you every 8 to 12 hours.

Do not go to the emergency room or to offices of doctors.

If your condition deteriorates and your fever goes over 38, contact the operator of the rescue service, who will turn to the regional hygienist. If needed, they will organise the taking of your samples and test you for infection.

How is the testing done?

Patients suspected of COVID-19 infection will be transported to the infectious diseases department under strict preventive measures, and will remain hospitalised until the lab test results are returned.

The hospital doctor in charge can also decide differently due to the limited capacities of the hospital.

Samples can also be taken at home, and the patient can stay at home if their condition allows it. The next steps then depend on the test results.

The laboratory diagnostics is secured by the National Reference Centre for Influenza.

Samples should be taken in the first days after you notice the symptoms of a respiratory disease.

Earlier testing might not show infection, because the amount of particles in the non-symptomatic stage of the illness is typically not high enough. This could lead to a false negative result.

Be patient when waiting for the results and respect the fact that the laboratory staff are facing a huge amount of samples these days. In the meantime, observe the orders of doctors.

©Sme

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