Do I have the Coronavirus?

This $20 device might help you know when to be concerned

If the virus takes root in the US, you’ll want to avoid hospitals if possible. 

Our hospital systems are already under stress.  We have many fewer hospital beds now (~950,000) compared to 1975 (~1,400,000).  An epidemic would overwhelm hospitals with both the worried and the sick.  Perhaps as bad, these hospitals will become a significant source of infection themselves.  

So today, I want to tell you about a useful insight from a study published in the English medical journal, The Lancet, a couple of weeks ago.  

The study entitled “Therapeutic and triage strategies for 2019 novel coronavirus disease in fever clinics” answers an important question:  

“If I’m feeling unwell, how do I know when to seek medical assistance because I might have the coronavirus?” 


Researchers believe the coronavirus affects the lungs and our ability to absorb oxygen. In this study, they advise that if the patient is:

  1. exhibiting chill, sore throat, or cough AND 

  2. Has a SpO2 level below 93,

    The patient should be immediately isolated, put on oxygen, and tested for the virus. 

Here’s the diagnostic flowchart from the study:

Fortunately, there is an easy way to test SpO2.  All you need is one of these: 

You can buy these on Amazon for around $20.  

Is it necessary?  I don’t know. But, I bought two of them after reading the study in mid-February.  If you find yourself unwell at some point, checking your O2 saturation levels could be an excellent way to know if it’s time to seek medical care.