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What to do and what not to do to avoid contracting coronavirus: WHO

While the government said it was on top of our first confirmed coronavirus case in South Africa, here's how you can keep yourself and others safe.

South Korean soldiers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, at a market in Daegu on 2 March 2020. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa confirmed its first case of the coronavirus in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday.

In a statement, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that the patient was a 38-year-old male from KwaZulu-Natal who travelled to Italy with his wife. The couple were part of a group of 10 people and they arrived back in South Africa on 1 March.

He went to a doctor on 3 March with symptoms of fever, headaches, malaise, a sore throat and a cough. Mkhize said that the patient had been in self-isolation since then.

The Health Minister added that the Emergency Operating Centre identified the people that the patient made contact with and a trace team was deployed to KZN.

The doctor treating him has self-isolated as well.

While government was on top of the case so far, you can stay up to date on information on the COVID-19 outbreak on the World Health Organising (WHO) website, and through the national Department of Health. COVID-19 is still affecting mostly people in China, with some outbreaks in other countries. Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others.

But you can be safe and ensure the safety of others by following the WHO's directions:

Wash your hands frequently
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

Why?
Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least 1m distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Why? When someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Why?
Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

Practice respiratory hygiene
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

Why?
Droplets spread the virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

Why?
National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your healthcare provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections.

Advice courtesy of World Health Organisation