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Cold, flu or COVID?  As coronavirus cases surge in Nottingham, East Midlands businesses can help staff recognise the differences

Cold, flu or COVID? As coronavirus cases surge in Nottingham, East Midlands businesses can help staff recognise the differences

With Nottingham reporting a surge in COVID-19 cases, regional companies will need to better support the wellbeing of their workforce, reports Nottingham-based health test provider Medichecks.

As cold and flu season hits and with COVID-cases peaking, businesses may struggle even more to cope with increased employee absenteeism and manage the threat of coronavirus in the workplace.

Over a third (36%) of East Midlands businesses reported a reduction of headcount in Q2 and 34% expect further reductions by the end of Q3 . A smaller workforce means safeguarding the health of staff has never been more vital, says Dr Sam Rodgers, medical director at Medichecks.

Dr Rodgers says:

“As we approach the winter months, the UK is entering the traditional seasons for colds and flu, with the extra difficulty this year that symptoms of common colds and flu can be similar to those experienced by people who have caught coronavirus.

“Although colds, flu and coronavirus are caused by different viruses, the similarity of symptoms between the three illnesses makes it hard to judge which you may have.”

To help differentiate between the three illnesses Dr Sam Rodgers explains the symptoms of each illness to look out for:

If it’s just a cold …

Most common colds tend to stay in the upper airways, and you are most likely to have a blocked nose, sneezing and a sore throat. The mucus produced when you have a cold can lead to a cough. Otherwise, you will probably feel okay, just a little run down with aches and pains.

There are 200 different viruses known to cause colds, many of which belong to the rhinovirus family. In some cases, the culprit is a type of coronavirus, though thankfully not the same type that causes COVID-19. Most colds will go away by themselves in a week or so without treatment. You can take over the counter medicine to relieve symptoms.

If it’s the flu …

The flu, also known as influenza, can be more serious than just a cold and can cause complications such as pneumonia in vulnerable people.

Common symptoms of the flu consist of a dry cough, fever, fatigue, aches and pains and headaches. Caused by several different influenza viruses, it can affect both the upper and lower respiratory system and tends to last a week or two - though the fatigue may persist a bit longer.

Some people can experience a runny or blocked nose or a sore throat, however, there usually isn’t sneezing or shortness of breath with the flu and the NHS notes there tends to be a rapid onset of symptoms.

Each year the NHS offers people at risk of complications a free flu vaccine. This year even more people will be eligible for the free flu vaccination, and you can find out more about it here

If it’s coronavirus …

Coronavirus can be extremely serious in some people, while only causing mild or no symptoms in others.

The most common symptoms of coronavirus are a fever and a new persistent cough (usually dry). It isn’t essential to have a thermometer to work out whether you have a fever, if you feel more hot than normal on your chest or back then this can be a sign that you have one.  Another common symptom of coronavirus is a loss or change in the sense of taste and/or smell (anosmia). The virus can also make people feel short of breath. Some people may also experience flu-like symptoms such as aches, pains and fatigue.

Dr Rodgers adds:

“If you’re not sure and are worried about your wellbeing or the health of someone you care for, it’s important to get a test. You can seek medical assistance in the UK by dialling 111 or by following the Covid-19 advice on the NHS website.”

A home-to-lab PCR swab test – the same type used by the NHS – is also available from Medichecks, in a bid to help the public struggling to access the UK’s national testing programme.

East Midlands Chamber, Quarterly Economic Survey, Q2, 2020


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