Not Every Common Cold, Cough and Fever is COVID-19
Weather change that is associated with common cold cases in India in the month of March-April has left millions of people who are down with seasonal cough or cold symptoms self-isolating themselves -- an exercise which is only creating unnecessary fear in the country, say health experts.
 
Doctors are flooded with patients who have normal cold or flu - along with conditions like anxiety and stress -- in the OPDs. They are very fearful and assuming it might be new coronavirus (COVID-19) disease although they just have seasonal symptoms. 
 
"People having cough or cold symptoms are somewhat scared in view of the COVID-19 outbreak. Some might also fear disclosure in fear of being isolated. People with an anxious and oversensitive predisposition or hypochondriacal and obsessive symptoms are likely to worry a lot and engage in an unreasonably restricted lifestyle," Dr Sameer Malhotra, Head, department of mental health and behavioural science at Max Super Speciality Hospital in Saket told IANS.
 
Despite the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) declaring there is no community transmission of the new coronavirus yet in the country, people in their sixties suffering from pre-existing conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure are becoming paranoid. 
 
"They want to get themselves screened for it whether or not the symptoms fits the disease. At the same time, they're also worried about their family, especially the elderly," said Dr Mugdha Tapdiya, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj.
 
Health experts are getting flu test, complete blood count and chest X-ray done wherever it is required. 
 
"Once results are not suggestive of possibility of coronavirus disease, patients are at peace. If there is breathlessness or there are findings in chest, we also suggest CT scan of the chest area to be done," said Tapdiya. 
 
Yes, there is a social pressure, admit doctors. 
 
"In fact, one girl who came to me from an NGO wanted to work from home because she had lots of elderly colleagues.
 
"She said since I'm suffering from flu, they're asking me to take leave and sit at home, which will be without pay. So there is a lot of social pressure especially in the private companies where people are not getting paid if they're sitting at home, that's why they're hiding symptoms," Tapdiya told IANS. 
 
Our message to the society is that not every cold, cough and fever is COVID-19 disease. 
 
"We need to understand that we are still at the stage II phase of the disease.
 
COVID 19 is still prevalent among the travellers who are from overseas. We need to just relax and not be fearful for our fellow colleagues and household members as well who have symptoms of cold, cough and fever," said Tapdiya. 
 
All with symptoms, however, must seek regular medical consultation without any fear.
 
Malhotra said that it is important to follow the advisory issued by the government and doctors. 
 
"One does need to be cautious and careful. At the same time, there is a need for more ICU beds and hospitals to avoid any shortage of services. The place of isolation should be comfortable both to the body and the mind, and clean," her added.
 
Even during the phase of isolation or restricted socialisation, one should try to engage in some constructive hobbies like reading, sorting one's paperwork and listening to music, etc to avoid excessive worry.
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    COVID-19 Turns Bengaluru Tech Hub into Ghost Town
    The Karnataka government's 'work from home' advisory to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, has turned India's tech hub into a ghost town, with the bustling campuses of IT majors like Infosys and Wipro deserted as thousands of their techies are missing in action since Monday.
     
    "We have advised our employees to work from home while ensuring client confidentiality and security. We will continue work with local governments the world over in following their advisories," said Infosys chief executive Salil Parekh in an e-mail to IANS on Tuesday.
     
    The $11-billion IT behemoth has an 81-acre green campus in the Electronic City, with over a dozen glistening glass buildings housing its software development centres where a whopping 30,000 techies work five days a week during normal times.
     
    "The partial lockdown has forced many of our engineers to work from home, leaving empty offices, sparsely utilised corridors, lobbies and other facilities across the green campus," admitted a company official.
     
    Infosys' rival Wipro also enforced work from home option for its code writers.
     
    "Given the evolving situation, we have advised our employees to work from home wherever feasible and if their role allows them to do so," a Wipro spokesperson told IANS.
     
    As a result, the usual buzz at Wipro campus in the city's southeast suburb is missing since Monday, as most of its 25,000 techies are working from the cozy environs of their homes in the tech city.
     
    Similarly, RMZ Ecoworld on the outer Ring Road in the same upscale suburb here, which is home to many tech firms, wears a deserted look, as thousands of geeks have been told to operate from home to avoid crowding and gathering in large numbers at one place.
     
    "Only employees in mission critical roles are coming to office as their other colleagues have been advised to work from home due to clampdown in the city," a Shell India Markets official told IANS.
     
    An executive of global audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) at the Embassy Golf Links office in the posh eastern suburb said the coronavirus induced changed work conditions were quite unexpected.
     
    "We did not expect COVID-19 to escalate so quickly. When we see a change, it is essentially two things—work environment and delivery,a the executive said.
     
    The partial lockdown has also snapped the human connect and personal touch in the job as team meetings and catching up with colleagues and friends has taken a break.
     
    "The work we do involves collaboration with colleagues in the office. This got disrupted and is being done in the virtual world," noted the executive.
     
    In the absence of physical attendance, PwC has advised its staff to connect virtually, sharing a list of tools that enable digital collaboration.
     
    "We are sharing screens with our colleagues and collaborating virtually. We, however, miss interactions that happen beyond office work like team bonding, socialisation and events," added the executive.
     
    Jawa, a start-up techie in the city's southern IT corridor, said the upscale HSR Layout where his office is located has an eerie look, as the hectic activity on working days is conspicuously absent, with the staff opting to operate from home.
     
    "It's been three working days since I went to office. Though the vehicular traffic in the office area was heavy on last Friday, the partial lockdown has reduced the number of people and their vehicles," Jawa pointed out.
     
    With thousands of techies logging for work at home and staying put, they have taken a break from shopping, eating out or sipping beer at pubs this week.
     
    "I saw Toit pub and some restaurants in posh Indiranagar in the city's eastern suburb open past midnight but the usual crowd is absent and night life is quiet for a change," affirmed Jawa.
     
    M Kiran Kumar, an Ernst and Young (EY) employee working at RMZ Infinity, where the Greece-returned Google employee who tested positive for coronavirus used to work said the large office complex is short of people.
     
    "I feel a bit scared in the office as the people are far less at work. Though I could work from home, I came to office because the network is better," quipped Mr Kumar.
     
    The office has also advised staffers like Mr Kumar to avoid eating at restaurants in the sprawling offices complex to avoid crowds.
     
    On an average, about 10,000 people log into a dozen multinational firms, including Google, in RMZ buildings.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
     
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    No Matter What Some Public Officials Say, the Message You Need to Hear Is “Stay Home”
    Mixed messaging from all levels of government is putting Americans at risk and will speed the spread of the coronavirus. No matter what politicians say, public health experts agree. Stay home, even if you feel fine.
     
    On Saturday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz took to Twitter to ask his followers to heed the advice of public health officials and politicians on the other side of the aisle:
     
    “If you can stay home, stay home,” the Texas Republican wrote. “And wash your hands.”
     
     
    Hours later, the Republican governor of Oklahoma tweeted from a packed restaurant in Oklahoma City showing that he is performatively not doing this. “Eating with my kids and all my fellow Oklahomans at the @CollectiveOKC. It’s packed tonight! #supportlocal #OklaProud”
     
    He deleted the tweet an hour later.
     
     
    On Sunday morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, told CBS’ “Face the Nation,” “Right now, personally, myself, I wouldn’t go to a restaurant.”
     
    Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican, spoke on Fox News and said, “If you’re healthy, you and your family, it’s a great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant, likely you can get in easy. Let’s not hurt the working people in this country ... go to your local pub.”
     
     
    Stay Home, Even if You Feel Fine
     
    The discordant messages underscore the immense challenges conveying common messages during a public health crisis, one that has happened time and again as the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has swept across the country.
     
    “The most important thing is for people to change their daily routines and really reduce their social interactions,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a former federal and state health official who is now vice dean for public health practice and community engagement for the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.
     
    “I don’t think it is the consistent message from all health and political officials. If people are going to change the way they live their lives, they need to hear about the need to do that from every credible source of information they have because if they get mixed messages it’s easy to lapse back to not changing.”
     
    From the availability of testing to the need to avoid handshakes, from where patients should go if they develop symptoms to whether to touch your face, the messages — and the actions by the public officials and even sometimes the doctors delivering those messages — have been contradictory.
     
    The Tough Days Ahead
     
    In the days ahead, consistent public health messages will be crucial, Sharfstein said, particularly if the virus continues spreading and places a burden on hospitals. Patients will need to know who to call if they get sick and when and where to seek medical care. Doctors will need to know where to send their patients.
     
    In most cases, the answer is to avoid sending patients to the emergency room if they are showing mild or moderate symptoms of the virus. Those who become sicker or develop trouble breathing should follow up immediately with doctors or seek emergency care.
     
    “A test itself is not treatment,” Sharfstein said. “A test illuminates what’s going on a little bit better. The response may just be to stay at home and monitor yourself.
     
    While it’s better to have more testing capability, we’re not powerless because the major response is just going to be to stay at home.”
     
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