You May Need to Get Two Virus Tests If You Fall Sick This Flu Season

With the flu season having just started, chances are either you or someone you know will have a case of the sniffles. But, unlike in the previous years, if you go to see a healthcare provider with flu-like symptoms, you’ll likely get two tests – one for COVID-19 and one for the flu. This time around, doctors just can’t be sure of whether someone who’s suffering from fever and body aches has the flu or COVID-19.

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Sorting out and differentiating the two from each other is vital, although the treatment methods may not be all that different – whether you have a mild case of COVID-19 or a few flu-like symptoms, you will likely be asked to rest at home.

However, if the person does have COVID-19, they’ll be asked to watch out for signs that indicate the illness is becoming more serious. Diagnosing an individual with COVID-19 will also immediately trigger interventions like contact tracing, to ensure the virus does not spread further.

While healthcare providers would, ideally, like to get rid of the flu and coronavirus, it is the latter that they are really trying hard to control – and the only way this is possible is by getting the infected individual out of circulation as quickly as possible.

However, given that flu season has only just started, doctors may first test patients with respiratory symptoms for COVID-19.l

There are only a few tests available that can test for both COVID-19 and influenza at the same time. Healthcare companies Cepheid and Roche have authorizations from the FDA for joint tests and the CDC has one for public health labs. While a joint test is the best approach, not all hospitals in all areas will have access to it, which means most healthcare providers will be relying on two separate tests.

If the joint test is not available, the infected individual may have to go through a combination of tests. For instance, a person may get a slow gene-based COVID-19 test and a rapid flu test.

All this testing is to help patients get better treatment. So, if you notice any symptoms, make sure to reach out to your healthcare provider immediately.