Kingston MOH warns that COVID-19 may present as a mild cold

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott said Wednesday that the province was being cautious in its approach to combatting the Omicron COVID-19 variant, including ramping up testing and contact tracing to identify cases.

Kingston’s top doctor says local COVID-19 rates are among the highest in southern Ontario, as community spread continues to account for more than half of active cases.

“Many individuals may not recognize that their symptoms that they may attribute to be a mild cold could, in fact, be COVID,” says medical officer of health Dr. Piotr Oglaza.

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It’s been two weeks since public health introduced more symptoms to screen for to help curb the spread of the virus.

As active case counts in the KFL&A region rise above 300 again, Oglaza is urging everyone who’s feeling ill to stay home.

“We’ve seen that through our outbreak and cluster investigations where the vast majority of those clusters and outbreaks would have a symptomatic COVID-19 individual in attendance.”

In addition to symptoms like fever, shortness of breath and decrease in taste or smell, KFL&A Public Health is warning that even mild symptoms like a headache, stomach ache, lack of appetite or a stuffy nose could mean you have COVID-19.

“We’ve always had, up until the pandemic, a kind of a culture,” says infectious disease specialist Dr. Gerald Evans, “certainly as a physician who works at a hospital knows — ‘Well, I’m feeling a little under the weather but maybe I’ll go to work anyway and maybe I’ll be fine.'”

Evans says that in healthy adults who’ve been vaccinated, COVID-19 can present most times as a very mild cold.

“We really can’t take those chances with so much COVID in our region at the moment, so if you feel unwell, stay home,” says the doctor.

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Many people that Global News spoke to on the streets of Kingston didn’t realize that COVID-19 may present as a mild cold.

“There’s a lot of conflicting messaging around exactly which symptoms are definitely COVID, which symptoms aren’t,” says Kingston resident Nicholas Abernathy. “I think the government and public health authorities could do a better job at more clearly messaging to the general population exactly what we should be doing when we have which symptoms, when, where and how.”

“Even in my friend group, people think if you are double-vaxxed then if you have any symptoms it’s probably just a cold or a flu,” says Hallema Raja.

Oglaza says isolating when sick is essential, especially as gatherings ramp up ahead of the holiday season.

In the weeks ahead, it could be the difference in keeping vulnerable people alive and well and keeping children in schools.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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