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What do you do if you think you’ve got coronavirus?

A cough, a sore throat or a fever.  These are normally pretty innocent symptoms.  Today many people experiencing them are worried they have caught the coronavirus.

Family doctors Stijn Verholle says people can’t tell for themselves whether this is the case or not: “Some have virtually no symptoms, while others get very ill.  Only people who are officially tested can be absolutely sure. Today only health care workers and people who are so ill they need to be hospitalised are being tested.”

If you have a respiratory complaint: stay at home, call your family doctor.  Don’t go and sit in his or her waiting room!

“Your GP will ask all kinds of questions and make a first diagnosis on the phone.  Everybody with mild symptoms must stay at home for seven days and try to isolate themselves from other members of their household as much as possible.”

“It’s important to limit the spread of the disease.  Everybody with respiratory complaints must stay at home.  This will include people with the common cold and even people who want to profit from the situation, but prevention is the priority at the minute.”

Family doctors may dispatch people with more serious complaints, a high fever or breathing difficulties or pressure on the chest to a hospital accident and emergency department or a triage point.

Temporary triage centres are being set up everywhere to ease pressure on hospitals and A&Es.

“Here patients can be examined by a doctor.  If need be they can be hospitalised.  There’s no point in going to a triage point if you have not been sent by your GP!”

Family doctors (GPs) are being swamped with calls from worried individuals.

“Doctors are being forced to change the way they work.  There are fewer in-person consultations, you will have to wait longer and in some group practises one doctor will do all the calls all day long.”

“Some infected people are still turning up in doctor’s surgeries.  This we are eager to avoid. This is why some doctors are only working by appointment. Making an appointment over the internet won’t always work.”

The Family Doctors’ Association is also asking people only to call if they have symptoms.  The official Belgian coronavirus website can also help to answer your questions and is available in English.  

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