The Lagos Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, on Saturday, August 1, revealed that the state is recording cases of people treating themselves for malaria only for them to realise after testing that it is COVID-19.
Abayomi further stated that the best way to distinguish malaria from COVID-19 is to get tested.
“We are seeing too many cases of people treating themselves for malaria multiple times; and only realise it’s COVID-19 after testing.”
The commissioner said sometimes, such people realised the error “too late;” and sometimes “show up too sick.”
“The symptoms are similar, but they are not the same. If you suspect malaria, please go for a test,” Abayomi counselled.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control had earlier revealed that both diseases are caused by different organisms; and differ in mode of transmission; albeit with similar symptoms.
NCDC, however, warned Nigerians against mistaking COVID-19 and malaria for the same infection.
Towards this end, a renowned Nigerian virologist, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, said laboratory investigation is the only way to correctly and definitively diagnose either COVID-19 or malaria; in locations where malaria is endemic.
“Malaria or COVID-19 affects people in different ways. Most infected people will either be asymptomatic; or develop mild-to-moderate illness; and recover without hospitalisation.
“The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever; dry cough and tiredness; while the less common symptoms include headache; aches and pains; sore throat; diarrhoea; conjunctivitis; as well as loss of taste or smell.
“Some people also experience serious symptoms like difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, loss of speech or movement,” Tomori said.
Tomori further explained that malaria shares similar symptoms with COVID-19 such as chills; fever and sweating; headache and pain in muscles or abdomen; nausea or vomiting; and chest or abdominal pain; and sometimes, cough.
“It is difficult to differentiate between malaria and COVID-19; especially mild cases, in an area endemic for malaria.
“Therefore, laboratory investigation is the only way to correctly and definitively diagnose either COVID-19 or malaria in locations where malaria is endemic,” Tomori noted.