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What To Expect If You Develop Symptoms Suggestive of COVID-19

Dr. Zoobia Chaudhry

Published

Symptoms of coronavirus COVID-19

Important relevant information on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19

To date there are officially ~1600 cases of COVID-19 in USA with most cases in the states of Washington, California and New York (~300 in each state). In rest of the states, the number of reported cases range from ~10-50. These numbers are expected to rise in coming weeks as COVID-19 is a contagious viral infection but it is expected that most healthy adults will get mild flu like symptoms.

Please consider the information below, keeping in mind that no human has complete knowledge and there is one with greater knowledge above each one of us.

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This is general advice for individuals, who are otherwise healthy and are not considered high risk. Here are some steps on what to expect and how can you prepare in case you develop flu-like symptoms and wonder what you should do next:

If you develop flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, difficulty breathing) or you have been in contact with someone who has been tested positive for COVID-19 or if you have traveled to endemic area in the last 14 days then you should:

1. Call your doctor. Try not to go into the office right away. In case you do not have a primary care provider then the other option is to find if there is the warm COVID-19 access line set up by your local government or health department or hospital.

2. Your doctor’s office may proceed with a series of questions over the phone (phone triage) and may not decide to run a COVID-19 test. If they decide to run the test, the nasal swab collection process for testing may also be varied by office. Not all offices and laboratories are equipped to collect nasal swabs and they may direct you to a location where samples are collected.

Physician’s office may decide to limit the testing to the people at risk for serious illness from COVID-19*:

  • Older adults
  • People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Lung disease
    • Cancer Patients/Immune compromised
  • Contacts of COVID-19 positive patients
  • Health care providers

*This list is not all-inclusive.

Thus, every one calling or walking into the doctor’s office with suspected COVID-19/flu-like symptoms may not be able to get tested for few reasons:

  • Availability of the testing is limited at this time.
  • Not every individual with suspected mild symptoms needs testing, as it does not change how their illness will be treated

In majority of states, the only way to get COVID-19 test is by physicians’ orders. Drive through testing is rolling out in handful of states. On one hand it is important to do testing for early detection and monitoring disease load in a community, on the other hand excessive testing for reassurance purposes only can overwhelm the system and redirect the sources from individuals who need it the most.

3.  If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately by going to local emergency room or calling 911.

In adults, emergency-warning signs could be*:

    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all-inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

4. In most mild cases, it is expected that you will be advised to stay home (even if you are tested and waiting for the results to return and even if when your results are positive) and self-quarantined.

5. If you or a loved has suspected or confirmed COVID-19 then you may be given instructions to on how to take care of your self or how to take care of a sick person at home.

6. We can all help by minimizing the spread of misinformation. Pause and think before hitting forward on any information. If the information sounds like really, really out there, then it probably is.  None of us would want to carry burden of passing forward information without thinking/verifying (which is a state of ghaflah) or thinking that our forwarding/not forwarding information will make all the difference (getting close to state of shirk, nawazubillah).  Please do share these facts about COVID-19 with your family and friends. 

As many scholars have advised, let us utilize this time in remembrance of Allah and introspection. This may be a unique chance for all us to review Surah Yusuf. How Prophet Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) responded with being truthful, patient, and muhsin, when he was confined by different situations in his life. Be it the loneliness in the well, internal confinement of being surrounded by temptations in the house of Aziz or giving up his freedom to be in the confinement of prison to stay away from fitna around him, we can draw numerous lessons from the best story of all times.

The Best of Stories: Pearls from Surah Yusuf | Part 1

Lessons From Surah Yusuf – Part 1: Sibling Rivalry

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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