Persons with flu-like symptoms should get tested for COVID-19

Persons who are experiencing upper respiratory tract symptoms like sore throat and runny nose, should get tested for Covid-19, as the new sub-variant could be disguising as the common flu, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has advised.

The sub-variant BA.2 of the omicron variant, is likely responsible for the recent increase in COVID-19 cases locally, with the country currently recording 854 cases, with 135 in the past 24 hours.

Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony.

Speaking during his daily Covid update, Minister Anthony said the BA.2  is very infectious and spreads very easily, especially when persons are not wearing masks.

The infectivity of this subvariant will also increase the number of active cases.

“That variant is very, very infectious, so people can get infected if they are in close proximity to somebody, and especially if you are not wearing masks, then you can get infected easily and we believe that that variant is circulating here and with that circulation we are going to see an increase in cases,” Dr. Anthony said.

The symptoms of this sub-variant also resemble those of the common flu.

“…so many persons who might be positive, if they don’t come and get tested, we would not know whether or not they are positive, so that’s something for people to bear in mind if they are getting upper respiratory tract infection, then they should go and get tested,” Dr Anthony said.

He noted that if people test positive, then they should isolate themselves to reduce the chances of infecting others.

The Influenza and Covid-19 virus (web image)

Currently there are 27 hospitalised Covid-19 patients, with 17 at the Ocean View Infectious Diseases Facility, and three in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Regarding vaccination, currently more than 86 per cent of the population has had a first dose, while more than 66 per cent has a second dose. Vaccination among the 12-17 age group remains stable, while so far 65, 607 persons have taken a booster dose.

Persons who are eligible for a second booster dose are urged to get it.  Adolescents could also receive a booster dose.

“We really want to encourage people to come out and get their booster doses, because we have seen that while people may have gotten their primary doses, after about a six-month period, the immunity starts to drop,” Dr. Anthony said.

Very soon the ministry will also be rolling out Covid-19 vaccination for children ages five to 11.