ith the onset of flu season amid Covid-19 pandemic, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Tuesday urged authorities to make influenza testing kits available in Kashmir.
“Covid and flu have similar symptoms and it is hard to diagnose which condition you have based on your symptoms alone,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“Testing is the only way to differentiate flu from Covid,” he said.
Dr Hassan said we need to test for both flu and Covid to know which viral infection a person has so that he or she can receive timely and appropriate treatment.
“Testing for both viruses will give public health officials important information how flu and Covid is spreading and what preventive steps should be taken to reduce transmission rates,” he said.
“At the moment our labs have test kits for Covid only and don’t have kits for influenza,” Dr Hassan said.
“Many patients who come to hospitals with febrile respiratory illnesses need to be tested for influenza, but due to non-availability of flu kits they end up on getting misdiagnosed,” he said.
The DAK President said last two flu seasons we saw very low levels of influenza due to social distancing, reduced travel, remote work and other mitigation measures in place because of Covid-19 pandemic.
“But unlike last two years, this year’s flu season could be severe as students are returning to schools, workplaces are transitioning back to in-person operation and many people have thrown caution to the wind,” he said.
“With almost no flu in circulation over last two seasons, there would be lower levels of natural immunity to the flu than usually seen,” said Dr Nisar.
“This means we could have more flu cases this year,” he said.
“We can’t be complacent about flu which can alone cause lot of trouble and with Covid-19 still raging, two together can wreak havoc,” he added.