Interview with Dr. Anna Erat on SARS-CoV2 and the Covid-Pandemic

The TCS provides all its members and employees with a competent point of contact for all things related to the coronavirus, through the Covid-Line by TCS MyMed & Hirslanden. With eight questions to a Hirslanden expert, we provide an exciting insight into medical everyday life during the current Corona pandemic in this interview.

We pose our questions to Dr. med. Dr. phil. Anna Margareta Erat. She is the chief physician (untill end of July 2023) of the Hirslanden Check-up Center and a specialist in general internal medicine with a focus on sports medicine. She has many years of experience in medical research and a doctorate in epidemiology.

Dr. Erat, how do you assess the current situation for society?

The Corona pandemic is a challenge not only for those affected by the disease. Measures such as home office and homeschooling, as well as lockdowns and long quarantines, also have far-reaching effects on mental health, social structures, and the economy.

What can each and every one of us do to return to everyday life as we know it more quickly

It is particularly important now that we consistently adhere to simple, effective, and efficient hygiene measures such as hand washing and disinfection, social distancing, and mask-wearing to slow down the spread of the coronavirus and avoid overburdening hospitals. This is in addition to corona tests, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine. This way, drastic measures like curfews and official business closures can be avoided, which ultimately benefits all of us.

Let’s now move on to your medical everyday life: The number of hospitalizations is a major issue, how does Hirslanden manage the rush?

Today, we have the capacity to test many more people than during the first wave of the corona pandemic. This allows us to initiate isolation at home, carry out triage, and begin therapy at an early stage. Fortunately, hospitalization can be avoided in most cases.

However, hospitalization may be necessary for multimorbid and older patients. For this, we have specific departments that are supervised by our infectious disease specialists and experts and are designated only for patients with Covid-19. This way, we can optimally care for this patient group while at the same time ensuring the care of other patients.

Where can you get tested for the coronavirus at Hirslanden?

We have our own corona testing centers at various locations, which offer competent care and short waiting times. Appointments can be made conveniently online. The evaluation of the swab usually takes 24–36 hours. The test result is sent by SMS or email.

Patients with positive test results are contacted by phone and advised.

When you have symptoms, you often wonder if it’s just a normal seasonal flu or if you’ve caught a corona infection. What are the differences?

Even though both flu and coronaviruses can attack the respiratory tract, they do not belong to the same strain or the same virus family. The seasonal flu (influenza) occurs in successive waves of infection, with most diseases in Switzerland occurring in winter.

As is well known, the first wave of the coronavirus (Sars-CoV-2) occurred in spring. The coronavirus has a higher mortality rate. A recent study in the science journal Nature indicates that mortality is on the decline. The symptoms of Covid-19 are primarily loss of taste, dry cough, body aches, diarrhea, and fever.

The flu presents with symptoms such as productive cough (with expectoration), body aches, runny nose, and fever. Differentiating based on symptoms is often not easy. Here, consultation services like the Covid-Line by TCS MyMed & Hirslanden and a doctor’s examination are essential. Because in the end, only a lab test can provide ultimate certainty.

Fall and winter are cold and flu season. This year, a new virus player, the coronavirus, is added, which we do not yet know in combination from our experience. How do you approach this topic?

The spread of the flu is also slowed down by the hygiene measures we know from corona prevention. Also important are the strengthening of the immune system and the flu vaccination. Strengthening the defenses can be supported in various ways. This includes sufficient sleep, preferably at least seven hours per day.

Regular exercise, a balanced diet with vegetables, berries, and fruits, the trace element zinc, and antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, such as vitamin C, also play a major role. People who are vegetarian or vegan need to ensure that they consume enough protein, vitamin B12, and especially vitamin D.

Why is a flu vaccination particularly important this year?

In order for the body to optimally fight an infection with the coronavirus, a healthy immune system is important. Chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure should also be optimally controlled.

Since a parallel acute infection can weaken the entire body, it is also advisable to protect yourself with a flu vaccination. If the body is weakened, opportunistic bacteria and coronaviruses can more easily cause pneumonia and a severe course of disease.

When can you get vaccinated against Corona at Hirslanden?

Since November 2020, our Hirslanden centers as well as many general practitioners and pharmacies have been offering the flu vaccination. A Corona vaccination is not yet available.

Covid-Line by TCS MyMed & Hirslanden Even in challenging times, TCS stands by its members with the medical platform TCS MyMed with advice, protection, and help. To expand expertise in health matters, TCS has partnered with Hirslanden, Switzerland’s largest medical network.

For questions about the coronavirus, the Covid-Line by TCS MyMed & Hirslanden offers a competent point of contact, on topics such as symptoms, differentiation from the flu or cold, test centers, hygiene measures and behavior rules, or the current travel situation in various countries. Due to the partnership, even complex cases are individually handled in first-class medical quality by highly qualified specialists.

Dr. Anna Erat MD/PhD

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I take care of my clients from a holistic point of view, offering personalized and precision medicine. Healthier, Longer Life.

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