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COVID-19 and Flu

COVID-19 and Flu what are the similarities and difference between the two in the symptoms and management. A simple infographic showing this.
Image showing two types of virus illustrations on the left you have red microscopic virus and on the right is one single green virus illustration
© St George’s, University of London

Like COVID-19 the flu is caused by a dangerous virus that kills thousands of people every year and hospitalises many more which also puts pressure on the health care system.

Flu passes from person to person and each year it causes varying complications especially during the winter months, which is when we see a rise in the number of flu cases and complications.

It is important therefore to understand the difference between COVID-19 and flu especially for patients, with many of the symptoms overlapping, it is difficult to clinically diagnose one over the other without a PCR test.

The following infographic developed by Rachel Eigbefoh, highlights the difference between COVID-19 and Flu as it currently stands (December 2020) – both viruses have the ability to mutate and can cause different side effects with each mutation.

The main difference in symptoms is that COVID-19 has the potential to cause loss of taste and/or smell, whereas flu can cause sneezing, blocked or runny nose.

Infographic titled COVID-19 vs flu, general differences. Covid-19 is a recently discovered virus causing mild to severe respiratory disease causes by coronavirus 19 and symptoms can start suddenly after 1 to 14 days after infection and is contagious from 2 days before symptoms appear. Flu is a common respiratory infection caused by influenza virus and symptoms gradually appear between 1 to 4 days after infection and patients can be contagious from 1 day before symptoms appear and are generally most common during Autumn and winter. Similar symptoms between the two include headaches, fatigue, sore throat, cough, vomiting, fever, diarrhoea, muscle aches and the key differences are in covid you can get loss of taste and smell and shortness of breath. In flu you can get sneezing and blocked or runny nose. Stay safe by doing a PCR test if COVID is suspected, if flu then rest, drink plenty of water and contact your local pharmacist. Both have vaccines but Flu is offered each year to 50 and over age bracket, pregnant women, those in care or with weaken immune system, certain health conditions and frontline workers. COVID-19 vaccine is available for all from age 16 and above. PCR testing is the only way to confirm diagnosis and a person can be infected with both at the same time.
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© COVID-19 vs Flu infographic by Rachel, Eigbefoh, St George’s, University of London (November 2021)

It is important to highlight to patients that any one person can be infected by both COVID-19 and flu at the same time which can increase their chances of becoming severely ill.

Talking point

Can you describe any other diseases or illnesses that COVID-19 has been confused with?

© St George’s, University of London
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Managing COVID-19 in Primary Care

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