Viral Respiratory Tract Infections

There have been a number of different viruses going around the community at different times over the past few months, notably human metapneumovirus and parainfluenza virus. Currently there is a further wave of respiratory tract virus infections circulating. SARS Coronavirus 2 (the virus that causes Covid) has been identified in a few cases. However no-one has needed to be admitted to Hospital, and the infections have generally been mild.

What are the symptoms of SARS Coronavirus 2?

Like many other seasonal viral respiratory tract infections, typical symptoms include blocked or runny nose, sore throat, a dry cough, headache and generalised muscle aches, sometimes with fevers.

What to do if you’ve got an infection

As with any other viral respiratory tract infection, most people do not need any specific treatment. You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen for the headaches and fever as well as simple cough linctus for the cough. All of these should be available in the shops.

There is no need to come to the General Hospital to see a nurse or doctor with these symptoms. It is actually best to stay away from crowded places if you do have these symptoms as you risk passing the infection on to others, and especially so from the Hospital given you might pass your infection on to unwell people or medical staff.

Very rarely you can get a bacterial infection on top of the viral one. If your cough starts producing a lot of yellow or green sputum and you start to feel unwell with shortness of breath, chest pains and persistent fevers, it maybe that you have a super-added bacterial infection. In these cases you should get clinical advice as you may need antibiotics. However in most cases you should be back to normal within a few days.

Do I need to report a positive Covid case to the Hospital?

You are no longer required to report your positive Covid test results to the Health Services Directorate, as Covid is now being considered like any other virus and treatment is no different to any other respiratory viruses.

Do I still need to self-isolate for five days if I have Covid?

Self-isolation for people with Covid was in place to reduce the rate of spread. Now that Covid is being treated as one of a number of viruses that cause cold like symptoms, there is no need to self-isolate. However, you might want to consider staying away from crowded places, wearing a mask and maintaining good hygiene practices (e.g. washing your hands regularly, sneezing into the crook of your arm etc).

Can I repeatedly catch Covid?

Yes, just like it is possible to contract a cold or flu multiple times, although it is very unlikely that you will get a repeat infection within 6-12 months. However, immunity to most viruses is relatively short-lived, and wears off in a matter of months. The virus also mutates and changes over time, making future repeat infection common.

The best way to consider Covid now is as just another virus that causes a cold.

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13 September 2023

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470