What to do if you suspect you’re infected with Coronavirus
Coronaviruses are basically a family of viruses that range from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, which is and SARs, Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus.
The news of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in South Africa has caused so much concern among South Africans who fear they too may fall victim to this deadly virus.
But, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said the risk that the virus would spread through South African communities was low as according to how things stand.
At a press briefing on yesterday, the Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and staff from the NICD gave some advice on what South Africans should do and what would happen if they or family members tested positive for the coronavirus.
The following are the virus’s main symptoms;
- Coughing and
- Shortness of breath.
Professor Cheryl Cohen of the NICD stated that: “If you are concerned and you meet the case definition, ideally, you should call ahead to a healthcare facility to let them know you are coming, but you should seek care.”
“If that’s not possible, you should identify yourself very quickly at the facility, and make sure you don’t mix with other people.”
When it comes to Coronavirus Tests
Mkhize added that all private healthcare practitioners would do more tests to exclude the common cold if somebody came in with respiratory tract infection symptoms.
“If it is more than that, they then send it to us.”
Mkhize also said that private practitioners were aware there was a “next level” to escalate cases to the government.
People with confirmed COVID-19 infections will be treated at 10 nominated hospitals below:
- Polokwane Hospital in Limpopo,
- Rob Ferreira Hospital in Mpumalanga,
- Steve Biko and Tembisa hospitals in Gauteng,
- Grace Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal,
- Klerksdorp Hospital in the North West,
- Kimberly Hospital in the Northern Cape,
- Pelonomi Hospital in the Free State,
- Livingstone Hospital in the Eastern Cape and
- Tygerberg Hospital in the Western Cape.
People who have been in contact with someone who is infected with the virus will be asked to go into quarantine.
Cohen said it included taking healthy people, who have been potentially exposed to an infected person, and separating them from society for 14 days.
The individuals will be monitored for any symptoms until the 14-day incubation period passes.
“That is to prevent them, if they have been infected, from spreading it,” Cohen said.
They will stay at home and be monitored regularly by medical staff to ensure that if there are symptoms, they are quickly tested.
Dr Kerrigan McCarthy of the NICD stated that, in a family situation, quarantine meant “maintaining a safe social distance from family members”.
“At the first sign of symptoms, seek health care. And seek testing for COVID-19.”
The NICO released a statement Thursday evening, urging South Africans to reduce the risk of acquiring COVID-19 and other respiratory infections by basically practising good hygiene.
Good hygiene practise includes the following:
- Frequent hand washing,
- Cough hygiene,
- Staying at home when ill and
- Keeping a distance from sick people with respiratory illness.
The statement read, “Moreover, the influenza season is approaching, and the vaccine will soon be widely available. The NICD wishes to encourage the public to get the influenza vaccine to reduce the chance of illness which may be confused with COVID-19 as influenza presents similar signs as COVID-19,”
“The influenza vaccine is especially recommended for individuals who fall into the risk groups for severe influenza illness which include the elderly, those with underlying illness, including HIV positive persons and pregnant women.”
The World Health Organisation advised that people should stay at least a meter away from others.
The department has also provided a hotline, which is 0800 029 999, with information for the public that will now operate 24 hours a day.