Written by Dr David Owens
Updated on June 28th, 2020
Firstly, don't panic.
Let's focus on information and evidence.
Fortunately, for the majority of people, it is a mild and self-limiting illness. In fact, between 30% - 50% of cases of COVID-19 have no symptoms.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Early symptoms may be hard to distinguish from a typical cold. Sore throat, cough and/or runny nose. Some people describe abdominal pain and some have loose bowels. Loss of the sense of smell or taste is a relatively frequent symptom. These early symptoms may or may not be associated with a fever. It seems likely that the majority settle and many cases are never diagnosed.
In some cases, typically after an interval of 1 - 2 weeks individuals develop an increase in cough and shortness of breath. This may be associated with aching muscles or body aches and fever. These are important symptoms and require medical assessment and often need specialist assessment and possible treatment.
What should I do if I feel unwell?
Hong Kong has done very well in controlling COVID-19 because of our policy of test, test, test. We are seeing very few cases of this infection in our population because of the containment strategy. In Hong Kong, we have focused on identifying as many cases as possible such that we can isolate infections and quarantine contacts. OT&P has supported the efforts of the Hong Kong health department throughout this process. We have completed thousands of tests for COVID-19. The vast majority of tests have been negative.
If you have symptoms which concern you, you should be tested. It is most likely that the test will be negative but testing is good for individuals and for the community. You can be tested by your family doctor or at government centres. Information on the government testing program can be found here. Please note there are different methods and locations depending on whether testing is routine screening or if you have symptoms.
I am worried that I or my family may be quarantined?
The containment strategy in Hong Kong means that positive cases will currently be treated in hospital and close contacts will be quarantined. We recognize that our patients wish to make informed decisions. We must also balance our public health duty to act on behalf of the population. Doctors in Hong Kong have a legal as well as ethical duty to investigate and report positive Covid cases. Hong Kong has protocols in place which have been shown to be very effective. We have explained Hong Kong’s elimination strategy in another article here.
In summary, Hong Kong has managed to contain Covid very well so far and the vast majority of patients who worry about Covid end up testing negative. This may change if the new more infectious variants get into our city. The challenge now is to increase vaccination rates. Ultimately vaccination remains the only solution to controlling the Covid pandemic. In another article, we discuss the Covid vaccines which available in Hong Kong.