Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services is advising members of the public to stay at home when feeling unwell and wear a face covering (masks) when going outside in order to minimise the spread of COVID-19 infection.
The advisory comes on the heels of an upward trend in coronavirus case numbers and increased presentation of flu-like illness at local health centres and hospitals.
Although the number of cases is as per the norm recorded around this time of the year, the ministry is urging people to show duty of care, particularly for the vulnerable in the community including the elderly, young children, pregnant mothers, and those with chronic diseases.
“Non-urgent visitation to the vulnerable should be avoided, and those caring for the vulnerable should wear a face covering if they are feeling unwell,” the ministry said in a statement. “Hand washing and proper cough practice should be followed at all times. Anyone with a fever or is feeling unwell should stay home from work in order to help stop the spread of illness at their workplaces.”
What is the “flu”?
Flu or Influenza is caused by the Influenza viruses which have many different strains that change from year to year. Some mild symptoms like runny nose, sneezing, cough, or sore throat may be similar to the common cold, however, it is not the same as the common cold, as it can lead to serious diseases such as pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs), especially in babies, people over age 60, pregnant women, people who have non-communicable diseases (e.g., lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes), the obese, and those who smoke.
Cough, sore throat, muscle/body aches, headache, fatigue, runny nose, sneezing, vomiting, and diarrhoea (more common in children).
While most people will develop these symptoms and recover in about 7-10 days, some will develop more serious illnesses that will require hospitalization. Please immediately seek medical care if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or heaviness in the chest
- Inability to stay awake or confusion
- Severe muscle pain
- Weakness and unsteadiness
- Worsening of chronic condition
- Any other symptom of concern, for example, severe vomiting
How is it spread?
You can catch influenza when an infected person sneezes or coughs and you breathe it in, or if you have direct contact or touch a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes.
Measures should be familiar as they are essentially the same as for COVID-19. Wear a mask or face covering that covers your mouth and nose when in a public place, wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoid crowds, stay home if you are sick, and cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze.
Extra rest can help the sick person recover faster.
The sick persons may develop high fever from the illness. They should dress lightly and avoid heavy blankets or excessive layers of clothes that could make them feel hotter. A mild fever does not need treatment as fever is the body’s way of fighting off an infection. A lukewarm bath can also help them cool off and wind down before taking a nap or going to sleep for the night.
Seek medical care
For children, sometimes even the best at-home care isn’t enough to help your little one make a full recovery. Seek medical care right away if any of the following symptoms are noted:
- Fever greater than 38°C for more than two days, or a fever of 40°C or higher for any amount of time
- Fever of 38°C or higher and is under 3 months old
- Fever that doesn’t get better after taking Panadol
- Seem unusually drowsy or lethargic
- Won’t eat or drink
- Fast breathing or wheezing or is short of breath
- Has bluish lips or face
- Dehydration and not passing urine or no tears when crying
- Severe muscle pain and child refuses to walk
After your child recovers, there are steps you can take to prevent cold and flu in the future. Wash all surfaces they came into contact with before or during their sickness. Encourage your children and other family members to wash their hands regularly to keep germs at bay.
Teach your child not to share food, drinks, or utensils when they eat. This assists with avoiding the spread of germs between them and their friends. Keep your child out of daycare or school when they are ill, especially if they have a fever. Keep them away from others with flu-like symptoms and avoid crowds.