Don't rush to the hospital if you think you have coronavirus — here's why

Find out how you can self-isolate, whether you live alone or with your family.
Published March 25, 2020

World leaders, health experts and medical staff around the globe are advising people to stay in their homes as much as possible in light of the coronavirus pandemic. This poses a question about what should one do when they suspect they have symptoms of the virus.

Here, offers a guide based on suggestions by authorities and experts.


A patient of coronavirus could face the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Patients may also experience

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain

But it is quite possible that one has contracted the virus but shows no symptoms, which is why New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had this to say: “If you have any questions about what you can or can’t do, apply a simple principle: Act like you have Covid-19."

What to do if you have the symptoms?

Do not rush to a hospital.

If you have the symptoms or otherwise suspect yourself of having contracted Covid-19, do not go to a hospital. While this advice may sound counter-productive, it is important to follow as the healthcare system is soon going to be overburdened if it is not already.

You also risk giving the virus to other people if you have it by going to a hospital and if you don’t, you risk contracting it by going to a hospital. Instead, call the Coronavirus Helpline at 1166 and inform them of your symptoms. They will let you know whether you need to get tested or not. If you feel your condition suddenly worsening, you should go to one of the designated hospitals for Covid-19.

Do not self-medicate.

“There are a couple of medicines that you may have heard of that are going around social media […] I implore you please do not take medicines without talking to your doctor,” Dr Faisal Mahmood, head of Infectious Diseases Department at Aga Khan University, said.

A photo posted by Instagram (@instagram) on

He added that these medicines could have side effects, including causing heart problems. “Please leave these questions to the doctors, don’t try to self-medicate.”

Read: Ibuprofen and coronavirus: what is the connection — if any — according to health experts


If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, self-isolate yourself at home for seven days. It is best if you can self-isolate alone but if you have your family living under the same roof, it is recommended that the entire family self-isolates for two weeks.

“For anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for seven days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period,” the United Kingdom government advises.

During this time, keep track of your symptoms and if they worsen, contact the national coronavirus helpline 1166 which will inform you of the future course of action. You must also self-isolate if you have a recent history of travel, especially to countries like Italy, Iran, China or Spain where the virus has spread fast, or if you have come into contact with someone who has been tested positive for Coronavirus disease.

“Call the emergency numbers if you have breathlessness or shortness of breath,” Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Center's (JPMC) Dr Seemi Jamali advises. The authorities will ensure you are quarantined and tested if necessary.

How to self-isolate?

If self-isolating alone:

• Try to avoid human contact as much as possible. Ask your friends or family to help you with groceries and leave them at your doorstep.

If self-isolating with family:

• Stay in a well-ventilated room and avoid sharing spaces.

• Move any vulnerable people, including the elderly, to a different place when self-isolating. If that is not possible, stay away from them as much as possible.

• Try to keep your toilet and bathroom separate from others. If that is not possible, clean it as much as possible after every use.

• Try to avoid going out of your room or using the kitchen as much as possible. You risk transferring the virus to your family with every contact.

• Clean frequently. Any things or places that you touch should be cleaned as much as possible. This includes doorknobs, handrails and table tops etc.

• Wash your hands, avoid touching your face and cough and sneeze into a tissue which you should dispose off properly.

• Use surgical mask at all times. If the mask gets wet or dirty with secretions, it must be changed immediately.

Here you can find detailed home care instructions of suspected or confirmed Covid-19 patients.

Federal Ministry of Health Coronavirus Help Line: 1166

Researched by Ebad Pasha.