COVID-19: Time to take things seriously

COVID-19: Time to take things seriously

Coronavirus: Don’t panic, prevent

Since the beginning of March, the Coronavirus, or scientifically known as COVID-19, had entered South Africa’s borders and many people are concerned about how the virus might spread and how to avoid further local transmissions.

The government, organisations, families and individuals are taking necessary steps to minimise the transmissions, and several help guides have made the rounds on how to prepare for the virus – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The Coronavirus is a large family of viruses which may cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). It’s a new strain that was identified in China at the end of 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.

Thousands of individuals have been infected, but also thousands have recovered. Although the outbreak has been labelled as a pandemic, it doesn’t mean that we have to go into a hysterical panic. We need to prepare and familiarise ourselves with the symptoms, but also what to do when on family lockdown. We need to plan on food, fuel, and necessities such as chronic medicine for at least three months ahead.

What you need to know

It’s an infectious condition, which can be spread directly and indirectly from person to person and involves your upper respiratory tract (nose, throat, airways, and lungs). The virus has high infectivity, but low mortality that ranges between 2-3%, which makes it less severe than the MERS and SARS. The risk of death is only higher in older people, above 60, and people with pre-existing health conditions.

If you catch the disease, you won’t die from it. No! Most of the symptoms can be treated with timely medical care. 80% of people (young adults and children) experience only mild symptoms and recover within two weeks.

The virus can be transmitted through the eyes, nose and mouth – with any coughing or sneezing droplets. Close contact with an infected person and with infected areas, objects or items, can transmit the disease. There is no evidence that the Coronavirus is passed on by food, including chicken and eggs.

Track the symptoms

Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Very similar to the common cold or flu but is usually noticeable within two to four weeks. The severity of the illness varies from person to person, but if you experience a fever, cold or sore throat do not panic. Instead, take care of yourself and think about those around you.

As the Coronavirus cases in South Africa rise, more people are concerned about whether they have contracted the virus or not. Therefore, general practitioners have urged patients to get tested at specific sites instead of visiting a doctor nearest to them. Hospitals and clinics are also open as established COVID-19 testing locations. Please see the list of places across the country where you can get tested if you suspect that you might have contracted the virus (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, and fever).

There is also a temporary screening and testing station set up outside the Sandton Clinic on West and Duodar Lane. It is for pre-screening possible cases to check if any patients visiting the clinic may have Coronavirus symptoms before setting foot into the clinic. All the suspected patients will remain in the tent, and the Department of Health will arrange for the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) to collect them.

Operating days and hours:

  • Monday to Friday: 07:30-16:00
  • Contact number to the clinic: 0824139982 Gloria Keetse

 Other concerns

Experts in the field speculate that heat and warm weather is likely to decrease the spread of the COVID-19 disease. The virus survives up to 8-10 hours on porous surfaces such as paper, untreated wood, cardboard, sponge and fabric. Other surfaces hold the virus a bit longer such as glass, plastics, metals and varnished wood.

If you’re considering wearing a mask, it’s suggested to purchase a 3-layer disposal surgical mask that is good enough to restrain the virus. The N-95 and N-99 masks are not mandated.

Though some pets and other animals tested positive for the virus, no symptoms of the disease had shown. Still, we recommend washing your hands before and after interacting with them to ensure that infected droplets (if any) on them don’t infect you.

Here are tips on how to protect yourselves, your families, and your communities, besides the measures declared by Cyril Ramaphosa.

  • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds with plenty of soap and water.
  • Sanitise your hands regularly with an alcohol-based sanitiser.
  • Sanitise your mobile phone and your car’s steering wheel regularly.
  • Refrain from touching your eyes, mouth or nose with unclean hands.
  • Keep your distance from anyone sneezing or coughing.
  • Avoid handshakes, instead wave your hand when greeting someone.
  • If you need to sneeze or cough, do so with a tissue and not into your hands.
  • Don’t travel, and avoid crowded places such as sports stadiums, shopping malls etc.
  • Wear a mask if you’re sick or if you’re taking care of an infected person.
  • Seek medical attention when you feel sick.
  • Stay indoors if you experience any of the symptoms described above.
  • Don’t just share any Coronavirus-related message. Ensure that it’s authentic from a trusted source and medical experts.
  • Be honest, don’t panic and don’t be afraid.

It’s a difficult time, but this too shall pass. We can overcome anything; we are South Africans.

Please visit the government’s COVID-19 portal, for information about the virus, the disease it causes, statistics on its spread, and related government press releases.