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Coronavirus Q&A

President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans not to panic following his recent announcement of the coronavirus being a national disaster and pandemic. 

He also advises every citizen to take charge of their own safety by observing measures such as frequent hand-washing with soap or hand-sanitisers and covering their nose or mouth with a tissue or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing.

Below are answers to questions that you might be needing clarity on:

Does a pandemic reflect the severity of a disease?

A pandemic has nothing to do with how serious an illness is. It just means a disease is spreading widely and at an alarming rate.

I have flu-like symptoms, should I get tested?

The symptoms of COVID-19 include a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or fever.  However, these are also symptoms of the flu. The National Institute For Communicable Diseases (NICD) recommends that you should only get tested if you display symptoms plus have:

  • been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 person
  • travelled to a high risk country
  • worked in or been to a healthcare facility treating people with COVID-19
  • have a severe case of pneumonia with an unknown cause.
  • Consult your medical practitioner immediately if you meet the above criteria.

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation is a way to keep yourself from possibly infecting others if you think you might be infected.

Can I go work?

Anyone who is sick or displaying symptoms should not go to school or work. If you have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, you should self-isolate for 14 days from the date of close contact. If you are concerned, contact your medical practitioner for further advice.

Where should I go if I want to test for COVID-19?

If you think you might have contracted the virus, you can call the NICD helpline and you will be advised on possible testing facilities.

What happens if I test positive?

Anyone who tests positive will immediately be notified and put into quarantine at home or at a facility designated to manage the outbreak. You will then remain in quarantine until repeat testing shows you no longer have the virus.

How much does the test cost?

Public sector testing is free of charge. Private laboratories such as Lancet, Ampath and Pathcare can also test. Enquiries should made be with the respective laboratory for their costing of the test.

How is COVID-19 infection treated?

There is no specific treatment available for the virus. Treatment is supportive by providing oxygen for patients with shortness of breath or managing a fever. Antibiotics do not treat viral infections. However, antibiotics may be required if a secondary bacterial infection develops.  

Who to contact on matters related to the Coronavirus?

  • For the latest coronavirus updates  Whatsapp Hi to 0600 123 456
  • If you suspect that you have the coronavirus call the National Institute for Communicable Diseases on 0800 029 999