Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, says when the harmattan season begins, it may be challenging to differentiate between common cold and COVID-19.

At the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja on Thursday, Ehanire said it is advisable for anybody showing symptoms of respiratory infection to use a face mask until there is confirmation of the person’s COVID-19 status.

“It is true that the period during harmattan you get an increase in upper respiratory tract infection, in catarrh, cough and so on,” he said.

“So it may be a challenge to start differentiating between that and COVID-19 but it’s good to get the history and to advise the patient to put on a mask or give them a mask, so that whether it is COVID-19 or ordinary influenza virus or any kind of virus, there is protection of others.

“Then, carry out the normal diagnosis. Usually, the runny nose is a common feature of that common cold infection and a heavy productive cough is part of it (common cold). The COVID-19 generally, but not always generally, is dry cough.

“Clinicians will have to try to find the difference between the two but symptoms can be a little similar.”

Meanwhile, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), as of June 10, 2020, a total of 13,873 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in 35 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).

Out of the total number of confirmed cases, 9,140 are active, 4,351 persons have recovered, and 382 deaths have been recorded.