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11 Aug 2020 15:18
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  •   Home > News > International

    Symptoms of coronavirus: Fever, tiredness and dizziness among the warning signs you could have COVID-19

    With parts of Australia back in lockdown due to soaring coronavirus cases, you might be getting that "here we go again" feeling. Here's a timely reminder of the symptoms to look out for, and how to know if you need a COVID-19 test.

    With metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire in Victoria enduring another lockdown amid spiralling coronavirus cases, you might be getting that "here we go again" feeling.

    No sooner have restrictions lifted in various parts of Australia, it feels like they're being reimposed just as quickly due to COVID-19 enjoying a resurgence in the southern parts of the country.

    As community transmission continues to escalate, it is more important than ever to recognise the symptoms of COVID-19.

    What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

    The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness and a dry cough.

    Some people also experience a sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, aches and pains, diarrhoea, loss of taste or smell, a rash or discoloured fingers or toes.

    Others become infected but don't develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell — in short, they are asymptomatic.

    It's not clear how many people with coronavirus are asymptomatic carriers. The World Health Organization (WHO) has cited "some estimates" that between 6 and 40 per cent of transmissions may be due to asymptomatic infections.

    So what temperature constitutes a fever? Our normal body temperature is usually between 36 and 37 degrees Celsius. Anything over 38C is classified as a fever and is something to keep an eye on.

    Increasingly, doctors are pointing to a loss of smell — called anosmia — as a major indicator of coronavirus.

    "My impression is that anosmia is an earlier symptom of COVID-19 relative to fever, and some infected people can have anosmia and nothing else," physician Andrew Badley of US medical centre the Mayo Clinic told health news organisation Stat.

    "So it's potentially a more sensitive screen for asymptomatic patients."

    The virus can also cause neurological complications that range from headaches and dizziness to seizures and confusion.

    So how long does it take before you show symptoms? They're usually mild at first and begin gradually, typically appearing three to four days after exposure to the virus, but sometimes up to 14 days later.

    About 80 per cent of people who get COVID-19 will recover without needing special treatment.

    But one in six will become seriously ill and develop breathing difficulties.

    Older people and those with underlying health problems such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.

    I think I have coronavirus. Who should I see?

    Health authorities recommend you seek medical attention right away if you have coronavirus symptoms.

    The coronavirus health information hotline, 1800 020 080, operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and should be your first call.

    Hotline staff may advise you to go to one of the pop-up or drive-through clinics set up around the country, or to a clinic attached to a nearby hospital, or your GP.

    If you go to your GP, make sure to call them ahead of your visit, advising them of your symptoms, travel history and any recent close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

    Your GP may advise that a tele-health consultation is appropriate.

    Information about whether you need to self-isolate can be found on the Department of Health website.

    It's good to check sites like these regularly, as the information from authorities is being frequently updated as we learn more about the virus.

    Should I get tested? What is the test for COVID-19?

    NSW Health has urged anyone who was at the Crossroads Hotel on July 3 through to July 10, and/or the Picton Hotel on July 4, July 5, July 9 or July 10, to get tested even if they have no symptoms.

    It adds that they should immediately self-isolate until 14 days after they were last at one of those hotels (and remain in isolation for 14 days even if they test negative) and continually monitor for symptoms.

    NSW Health has also warned people to watch for symptoms if they were at a number of locations around the state on specific dates.

    Similarly, residents in Victoria's 10 restricted postcodes are urged to get tested even if they do not display symptoms.

    The COVID-19 test can be ordered by GPs, hospital emergency departments as well as specialist coronavirus clinics. The test may include a swab test inside your nose or the back of your throat, a blood test, or a sputum test, which examines a mix of saliva and mucus.

    Your doctor will decide if you need to be tested based on these criteria:

    • If you have returned from overseas in the 14 days before you felt unwell
    • If you have been a close or casual contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case in the 14 days before you felt unwell
    • If you have a fever or acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat) with or without fever
    • If you have severe community-acquired pneumonia and no other obvious cause, with or without recent international travel
    • If you are a healthcare worker with direct patient contact and have a fever (higher than 37.5 degrees) and an acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat)

    The guidelines for testing are being regularly updated as the spread of the virus changes in Australia.


    © 2020 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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