There are many doubts that residents have about the risk of contracting coronavirus in public places. This picture is for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman /Gulf News

Dubai: With the coronavirus scare peaking as the number of cases increase globally, it is not uncommon to find residents with a common flu fearing they could be coronavirus suspects - after all their symptoms overlap to a large extent.

Gulf News spoke to two doctors -- Zizi Wanis, Infection Control Officer, Mediclinic Welcare Hospital and Dr Mohammad Shakkil, Specialist Internal Medicine, Aster Speciality Clinic, Discovery Gardens - to get answers to the 10 most nagging questions that are being asked in the UAE. Check them out:

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Masks are advised for those who have flu symptoms, not otherwise Image Credit: Agency

Is the flu season on now?

Yes, although flu activity peaked at some point between October and February, it tapers off by April.

What are the main symptoms I need to watch out for?

Cough, pain in throat, fever, headache, body ache, fatigue, shortness of breath; some people may also complain of vomiting and diarrhea.

With the normal flu, I usually let it to run its course. Is this advisable now?

No, consult a doctor.

With the scare of coronavirus in the air, what must I do?

• Studies suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through air. So:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

• If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

At what point do I visit the doctor?

When you start feeling uneasy. If you have a travel history to an affected country or person and you have flu symptoms or if you have fever and are not improving.

How do I know if I have been exposed to a coronavirus carrier passing by in a mall, airport or public place?

That will be determined by the clinical presentation of the disease and assessment by the treating physician upon basic investigation.

What should I do if there is someone in a building that I work, live or have visited is tested positive? Am I at risk of contracting Covid-19 from elevator buttons, doors, railings etc?

Yes, if they are not cleaned appropriately, consider though that any virus can stay on the surface for several hours, therefore to prevent the spread of infection, you need to wash your hands more frequently. Meet the doctor if symptoms develop.

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Door handles must be cleaned regularly Image Credit: Stock image

How is flu, coronavirus confirmed?

Doctors identify a flu from symptoms, influenza virus swab tests and basic blood tests. Coronavirus is verified through immunological and real time PCR or polymerase chain reaction tests which analyse clinical specimens for the presence of infectious agents.

What medications are given for conronavirus suspects with mild symptoms?

Only supportive medication based on clinical examination.

Anything else I need to know?

Stay abreast with updates on the spread of the disease and isolation and preventive measures provided by government authorities. Refrain from spreading rumours.

Also take steps to protect others; stay home if you’re sick, except to get medical care; cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow; throw used tissues in the trash; wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; wear a facemask if you are sick and are sharing sharing a room or vehicle with others.