How to access care in the time of coronavirus

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Discovery and Vodacom have partnered to provide a free online COVID-19 consult with a medical doctor, if you think you may have been exposed to coronavirus.

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Easy Prevention Tips

Clean your phone

Any high touch surfaces, like your phone, should be cleaned frequently

Keep a distance

Keep a good 1.5m between you and others, social distancing is important

Wash your hands

Help prevent the further spread of COVID-19 by regularly and thoroughly washing your hands

Frequently Asked Questions

The 2019-2020 Coronavirus pandemic, also known as the COVID-19 pandemic, has had a huge impact on our lives. Below is a list of what you need to know about the virus and how to combat it. For more information and additional resources, visit the COVID-19 information page of The Department of Health. You can also visit the World Health Organisation website for additional information and a global overview.

What is COVID-19

Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the latest coronavirus. It is known as the "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS – COV- 2)". "COVID-19" stands for "Coronavirus Disease 2019".

The most common symptoms are:

  • Mild to severe respiratory issues such as a dry cough and shortness of breath.
  • Tiredness.
  • Fever.

Other symptoms are:

  • Aches and pains.
  • Sore throat.
  • In rarer cases: diarrhoea, nausea and a runny nose.

The full medical fallout of COVID-19 is still unclear at this stage. Patients may experience all or none of the symptoms above. The disease can be acute and deadly or feel no different than a simple cold. Any case where the patient does not require to be hospitalised is defined as “mild”. Most cases worldwide, about 80%, fall under this category.

Coronavirus symptoms may appear between 2 to 14 days after having contracted the disease.

Transmission and Risk Groups

The virus was originally transmitted through exposure to an animal source. It now spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets resulting from coughing or sneezing. This is not unlike how other respiratory pathogens spread. Proximity increases the risk of contact and possible infection.

COVID-19 appears to be very contagious. Notwithstanding proximity, contaminated droplets can survive for up to twelve hours on various surfaces, further increasing the contamination risk. As of writing, further research is required to fully understand the contagion rate of the virus.

Yes, you can be infected and pass on the virus without experiencing any of the symptoms.

Anyone can contract COVID-19, though specific groups are more vulnerable to the disease than others:

  • Older people.
  • People with underlying conditions like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases or cancer.

No specific guidelines exist yet for pregnant women, though they are generally more vulnerable to respiratory infections. It is recommended that pregnant women be extra vigilant and adopt the generally accepted preventive measures.

Prevention and Treatment
  • Regularly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Dry your hands afterwards.
  • If soap and/or water are not available, use alcohol-based (at least 60% alcohol) hand sanitiser or wipes.
  • Avoid touching your face and accidentally introducing droplets into your respiratory system.
  • Keep a safe social distance of 1.5 meters.
  • Avoid physical contact, such as a handshake, with others.
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue or your elbow.
  • Regularly sanitise appliances or devices that touch your face, like a smartphone.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize recommends widespread use of cloth masks in public, with medical masks reserved for healthcare professionals.

It helps reduce the spread of infected droplets.

As the disease can be symptomless, everybody should wear a facemask to help stop spreading the coronavirus.

  • It must cover your nose and mouth.
  • Keep it over your face when speaking, coughing or sneezing.
  • Do not repeatedly touch your mask.
  • Do not touch the inside of your mask at all.
  • Wash your hands after having removed your mask.
  • Wash your cloth mask with warm soapy water.
  • Iron it when it has dried.

You should have at least two which you alternate between as one gets dirty and needs to be washed.

Adequate masks (N-95 and surgical masks) are in short supply. They are better suited for the medical personnel and first responders who are on the frontline of the pandemic. The prevention methods described on this page and an adequate cloth face mask will be enough to minimise your risk of infection.

Though many research teams are working tirelessly around the world, there is currently no vaccine for the coronavirus.

Currently, all treatment is supportive:

  • Oxygen and ventilation are used for patients with shortness of breath and or/fever.
  • Antibiotics cannot treat a viral infection but can be used to address secondary infections.
What To Do If Infected

Upon infection, or suspicion thereof, contact your medical practitioner or your nearest medical centre for instruction. Do not travel to them unannounced. They will assist and/or redirect you to the appropriate service provider for adequate testing.

  • Provided the symptoms are mild, quarantine yourself at home and avoid any contact with other people for 14 days.
  • Seek medical attention if supportive treatment is needed.
  • Inform your community and family that you have been infected. Anybody that interacted with you needs to take appropriate measures of their own.
  • Try to self-isolate while under quarantine. Use a separate bathroom and stay in a single room if possible.
  • Let a one person in your household be your sole caregiver.
  • Keep a distance of at least three steps from all other inhabitants.
  • Go in quarantine for 14 days. Staying home stops you from potentially spreading the disease.
  • Self-isolate as much as possible.
  • Inform your social circles of the potential exposure.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms and seek medical attention should you experience any.
The Coronavirus in South Africa
  • From the 26th of March to the 30th of April 2020, South Africa is in a national lockdown. Any non-essential travel is prohibited and persecuted.
  • Testing resources are being rolled out and the evolution of the pandemic in the country is being closely monitored by the South African government.
  • For all latest developments, statistics and news on the coronavirus crisis in South Africa, visit the dedicated landing page set up by the department of health.
  • Abide by the rules imposed by governing bodies such as lockdowns, travel restrictions and other temporary measures.
  • Keep healthy and avoid falling ill in general to limit the pressure on available medical resources.
  • Understand that this is affecting everybody. Protect yourself but allow others to protect themselves too.
  • Stay informed and seek information from reputable sources, such as the department of health and the World health organisation.