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Allergy sufferers concerned about being mislabelled as COVID-19 carriers: Manitoba pharmacist

Some people with allergies are being accused of having the novel coronavirus, according to a new poll.
Some people with allergies are being accused of having the novel coronavirus, according to a new poll. Getty Images

Seasonal allergies are a pain every year, but with everyone on high alert about COVID-19, coughs and sneezes may be making life a bit more awkward in 2020.

A new report by Shoppers Drug Mart says more than half of Canadians with seasonal allergies say they’ve been confronted by someone concerned they may have COVID-19.
Steinbach, Man., pharmacist Hans Epp told 680 CJOB many people are on edge because of the pandemic.
“In years past when we’ve had allergy symptoms which often include sneezing and coughing, people just kind of ignored it, or just noticed it — but this year, whenever anyone sneezes or coughs, everyone notices it.
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“It puts the allergy sufferers totally on edge, so hopefully as a pharmacist, we can actually help people who can prevent that.”

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According to the 2020 Shoppers Drug Mart Allergy Index, three in five Canadian allergy sufferers say they worry others around them may think they have COVID-19 due to their allergy symptoms, and more 53 per cent say they have been confronted by someone thinking they may be sick and contagious.
Almost one-third of people experiencing allergy symptoms said they were concerned they may have contracted the virus.
The number of allergy sufferers who admitted sneezing or coughing on someone else is down considerably — 40 per cent compared to 68 per cent in 2019.

Epp said because allergy symptoms are so similar to coronavirus symptoms, many people are trying to mask them with medication or doing whatever they can to keep them at bay to avoid criticism.

“I’ve definitely been very conscious with my own symptoms as they’ve ramped up,” he said.
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“Anyone with allergy issues, the best thing to do is curb those symptoms by seeing (a pharmacist) first, and we can definitely help with that.

“I’ve seen it first hand. I can’t say that I’ve been approached myself directly, that someone thought maybe I had COVID, but I’ve been very conscious to try and relieve and alleviate those symptoms.”
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