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Doctor's advice: How to care for yourself if you think you have COVID-19
Published Friday, March 27, 2020 11:51AM PDT Last Updated Monday, March 30, 2020 8:42AM PDT
VANCOUVER -- As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to grow across B.C., people are getting very concerned if they develop a cough or a fever.
CTV Morning Live spoke to family physician Dr. Melissa Lem on Friday about how to take of yourself if you start feeling sick or showing symptoms of coronavirus.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Pires: What is the best way for you to take care of yourself at home if you think you have COVID-19 or if you're recovering from it?
Lem: About 80 per cent of people who get COVID-19 have mild symptoms that don't need a visit to the hospital so most people will be caring for themselves at home. But my number one recommendation is to remember to self-isolate for at least 10 days after your symptoms start and step-up your hygiene practices at home so you don't spread it to others. In general, I would treat your symptoms like you'd treat other colds and flus—by resting, drinking lots of fluids and taking over-the-counter medications for your symptoms. There have been some stories in the media about avoiding some common medications or taking certain ones to cure COVID-19, but currently there's no good evidence that doing this makes any significant difference.
Pires: At what point would you recommend getting a COVID-19 test?
Lem: Here in B.C., we do have a useful online self-assessment tool. It helps you figure out if you need to be assessed further or if you need to be tested for COVID-19. So in general, you should be tested if you have respiratory symptoms. So asymptomatic people shouldn't be tested. So respiratory symptoms and one of four reasons, if your symptoms are bad enough that you require hospitalization, if you're a health-care worker or live in a long-term care facility or if you're part of an investigation of a cluster or an outbreak. It's really important that you call ahead first so that staff can prepare for your visit. And depending on where you are in B.C., you'll either be tested at an urgent care clinic or a walk-in clinic or your family doctor's office.
Pires: How safe are clinics right now for both health-care professionals and people seeking medical advice?
Lem: We are seeing community spread of COVID-19 in B.C., so any place that sees high numbers of different people sharing the same space which unfortunately does include medical clinics is a place where you're at greater risk of catching it. So right now doctors are supposed to be limiting their care to patients who need essential, urgent and emergency services and reducing their direct physical contact with patients. And that's why a lot of our clinics have moved towards mostly phone and telemedicine visits. And we've also been told that anyone including doctors who provides in-person direct care to patients should be wearing three things: eye protection, face masks, and gloves at all times. That said, we're being extra careful by spacing patients out physically and stepping up cleaning protocols. Many patients who have suspected COVID-19 are being sent to dedicated testing centres. So if you do have an urgent health problem, don't hesitate to call ahead and see if you need to visit us in-person.
To watch the full interview click the play button on the video at the top of this article.