FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Coronavirus or COVID-19 is an infection that involves the upper respiratory tract including the throat, airways and lungs. It can be spread, directly or indirectly, from one person to another. The rapid spread of this novel strain of coronavirus across the world has made it a common global enemy and humanity is rallying to fight it with tactics of lockdown applied in many countries, while scientists and researchers work to find an effective vaccine.
The incubation period (time from exposure to the development of symptoms) of the virus is estimated to be between 2 and 14 days based on the following sources:
- The World Health Organization (WHO) reported an incubation period for COVID-19 between 2 and 10 days.
- China’s National Health Commission (NHC) had initially estimated an incubation period from 10 to 14 days
- The United States’ CDC estimates the incubation period for COVID-19 to be between 2 and 14 days
- DXY.cn, a leading Chinese online community for physicians and health care professionals, is reporting an incubation period of “3 to 7 days, up to 14 days”.
The estimated range will be most likely narrowed down as more data becomes available.”
This infection is spread through the eyes, nose and mouth. More specifically through droplets produced on coughing or sneezing and/or close contact with an infected person and/or making contact with contaminated surfaces, objects, or items of personal use.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may be a fever, dry cough, tiredness or shortness of breath. The severity of illness has varied from person to person during the first four months of this human strain of coronavirus.
Hospitals have been mobilised to offer testing. In responding to COVID-19, community health teams are also focusing on expanding screening and testing where people live, focusing first on high density and high-risk areas. To ensure that hospitals are not overwhelmed, a system is being put in place for ‘centralised patient management’ for severe cases and ‘decentralised primary care’ for mild cases.
The nationwide lockdown will further be accompanied by a public health management programme which will significantly increase screening, testing, contact tracing and medical management.
The following can provide protection against infection from coronaviruses and many other viruses that are more common in South Africa:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the bin.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of cold and flu but there are very important differences on which your doctor can advise. If you are at all worried about any symptom that you or anyone in your family may be experiencing, contact your doctor telephonically for help.
|Time between catching the virus and beginning to show symptoms||1-3 days||1-4 days||2-14 days|
|How long do symptoms last||7-12 days||3-7 days||Mild cases: 2 weeks
Severe or critical disease: 3-6 weeks
|Runny Nose||Common||Sometimes||Less Common|
|Sore Throat||Common||Sometimes||Less Common|
|Body Ache||Common||Sometimes||Less Common|
This virus can survive for up to 8-10 hours on porous surfaces (like paper, untreated wood, cardboard, sponge and fabric) and a little more than this over nonporous surfaces (like glass, plastics, metals, varnished wood). It is recommended that people regularly sanitise home and work surfaces in their immediate environment.
The Government of South Africa instituted a national lockdown between midnight on 26 March and 16 April 2020 (midnight) in a bid to contain and slow down the spread of COVID-19. This means that all people whose work is not classified as an essential service must stay home, not leaving their house, unless they need to buy food or medicine or seek medical help.
Remember that during this time:
- If a private vehicle is being used for a trip to buy food or medicine, there can be a maximum of two people in the car.
- Alcohol and cigarettes are not for sale.
- Restaurants and food delivery services are not operational.
- People are allowed to leave their houses if they need to collect their social grant, with public transport being available for such trips but only for eight hours every day between 05:00 – 09:00 and 16:00 – 20:00.
The lockdown is for the collective health and safety of the nation and all our people. Either a jail term and/or a fine will be applied if lockdown regulations are not followed.
Between 26 March – 16 April (midnight), individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or to collect social grants.
The lockdown is our government’s bid to contain and slow down the spread of the Coronavirus in South Africa and the only people exempt from it are those who provide essential services in the country.
These are the health workers in the public and private sectors, emergency personnel, those in security services (such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers) and other persons necessary to respond to COVID-19.
Those exempt will also include people involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and those involved in the provision of medical and hygiene products.
In terms of business with the exception for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers, all shops and businesses are closed.
Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies remain open. Firms that are able to continue their operations remotely should do so.
As individuals while we may feel helpless in the fight against COVID-19 it is actually quite the opposite. There is power in our collective effort and if every person plays their part to enable the protective measures in place be most effective, that is a big help. At this time our country needs us to all stay home and to be vigilant in our hygiene and social distancing behaviour.