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  • Principal Medical Officer and National Epidemiologist, Dr. Karen Webster-Kerr, is calling on persons who are experiencing unexplained respiratory symptoms to seek advice from their local doctors before contacting the national COVID-19 hotlines for assistance.
  • This, she said, is to ensure that symptoms are properly assessed by a trained professional, so that persons can be appropriately advised quickly on how to proceed to access healthcare.
  • “If you are having respiratory symptoms, especially accompanied by a fever, you should call your doctor or the nearest health centre. If that fails, then you can call the Ministry, but we want persons to call where they can get action and advice quickly,” she told JIS News.

Principal Medical Officer and National Epidemiologist, Dr. Karen Webster-Kerr, is calling on persons who are experiencing unexplained respiratory symptoms to seek advice from their local doctors before contacting the national COVID-19 hotlines for assistance.

This, she said, is to ensure that symptoms are properly assessed by a trained professional, so that persons can be appropriately advised quickly on how to proceed to access healthcare.

“If you are having respiratory symptoms, especially accompanied by a fever, you should call your doctor or the nearest health centre. If that fails, then you can call the Ministry, but we want persons to call where they can get action and advice quickly,” she told JIS News.

Dr. Webster-Kerr pointed out that while there are established COVID-19 hotlines, as the country grapples with the novel coronavirus, the resources of the Ministry of Health may be stretched as the team seeks to handle all calls that are being made to the COVID-19 call centre.

The Principal Medical Officer explained that it is very hard for persons to distinguish between the influenza virus and the SARS Cov-2 Virus in terms of symptoms, as they are similar in nature.

“Patients may experience fever, cough, runny nose and sore throat, which are symptoms of both,” she added.

Dr. Webster-Kerr said if someone is experiencing these symptoms, it is likely that they may have influenza.

She noted that while persons should be vigilant to check for fever and respiratory symptoms, such as a cough and a sore throat, more immediate intervention would be required if the patient has shortness of breath.

Dr. Webster-Kerr said that for persons with mild symptoms, which are likely to be in the majority of cases (approximately 80 per cent), the recommendation is to stay home and take over-the-counter cold medication.

“Most persons can take paracetamol and that is important for the fever. We also recommend that you rest and drink lots of fluid to prevent dehydration,” she said.

“You can take over-the-counter drugs for cold; however, for the persons with underlying conditions, the advice is to consult your doctor,” she added.

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