Coronavirus: Your must-have checklist & toolkit to answer key questions

With the first case of coronavirus confirmed in South Africa, panic, false information and lack of knowledge are likely to be heightened, so it's important for everyone to know what to do in case they suspect anything may be wrong.

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JOHANNESBURG - With the coronavirus cases in South Africa on the increase, panic, false information and lack of knowledge are likely to be heightened, which is why it's important for everyone to know what to do in case they suspect they or someone they know may be infected or need assistance with something related to the lockdown.

We've put together a must-have checklist and toolkit to answer some of your most pressing queries.

Below is a checklist that will help answer some questions you may have:

1. Have you travelled to an affected area recently, or been in contact with someone you know or work with who has travelled to affected areas?

2. Do you have any of these symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) at the same time?

3. Have you been to a doctor? Go to the hospital closest to you dealing with these cases and call ahead to tell them you're coming.

These are the hospitals designated for treatment:

Western Cape:
- Tygerberg Hospital

Gauteng:
- Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital
- Steve Biko Academic Hospital

KwaZulu-Natal:

  • Grey's Hospital in Pietermaritzburg
    – Doris Goodwin Hospital in Pietermaritzburg
    – Richmond Hospital in Richmond

Limpopo:

  • Polokwane Hospital

Mpumalanga:
- Rob Ferreira in Mbombela (Nelspruit)

Free State:
- Pelonomi Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein

North West:
- Klerksdorp Hospital

Northern Cape:
- Kimberley Hospital

Eastern Cape:
- Livingstone Hospital in Nelson Mandela Bay

4. There's also the National Institute for Communicable Diseases hotline: The General Public Hotline Number is 0800 029 999 and operates on weekdays, Monday to Friday, from 08h00 to 16h00.

5. Have others been in contact with you? They may need to be checked out too.

6. Don't panic: Despite the confirmation of the first case of coronavirus in South Africa, health authorities and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases have stressed that there's no need for alarm as it's treatable and that most people who have become infected, experience mild illness and recover.

People should, however, continue to follow hygienic practices such as regular hand washing, and if they experience the simultaneous symptoms of fever, coughing and difficulty breathing, they should seek early medical care.

SELF QUARANTINE & ISOLATION GUIDELINES

Should you find yourself having to self-quarantine or isolate because you may show symptoms or need testing, here are guidelines to follow:

You can end your home isolation 14 days after your illness began. Your illness began on the day that you first developed symptoms, not on the day that a specimen was collected or on the day that the laboratory test was reported to be positive. If you were tested with no symptoms and had a positive test result, you can end your home isolation 14 days after the positive specimen was collected.

After a 14-day home isolation period, you are considered to no longer be infectious, i.e. you are very unlikely to transmit infection to others. No follow-up laboratory tests will be done during or at the end of your home isolation period. Laboratory tests that only look for coronavirus genetic material in specimens cannot tell us whether you can still transmit infection to others because a positive test may only pick up pieces of dead virus.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU TEST POSITIVE?

Your healthcare provider (your GP or local clinic) is primarily responsible for your care. However, you may be called, visited at home or advised by government officials, community health workers or by the NICD. Once you have confirmed coronavirus disease, the purpose of this contact is to assess if your home environment is suitable for isolation, to assist you and members of your household adhere to the home isolation recommendations and to monitor your illness.

Your health care provider, government officials or NICD will also ask you to make a list of all the people you have had close contact with from 2 days before you became ill. These people will also be required to self-quarantine at home for 14 days and monitor themselves for symptoms.

Other members of your household (who are considered among your close contacts) will only have specimens collected for laboratory testing if they develop symptoms consistent with coronavirus disease.

Have your healthcare provider’s contact information on hand for emergencies

Most people who get sick with coronavirus disease will have only a mild illness and should recover at home. You may continue to experience the typical symptoms which include a fever, cough and mild shortness of breath. Most people with mild illness will start feeling better within a week of first symptoms. Have your healthcare provider’s contact information on hand for emergencies – this could be your GP or your nearest local clinic/ hospital.

Get rest at home and drink enough water/ clear fluids during the day to make sure that your urine stays a pale clear colour. There are no specific antiviral treatments recommended for coronavirus disease. You can take over-the-counter medications if you have fever or pain. Use these according to the instructions on the packet or label and do not exceed the recommended dose. You should continue taking any other prescribed chronic medication.

Monitor your symptoms carefully. If your symptoms get worse, call your healthcare provider immediately. If you develop any emergency warning signs, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include: trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure in your chest that does not go away, coughing up blood, becoming confused, severe sleepiness, blue lips or face. If you have any warning signs, you or a member of your household should call your nearest hospital or emergency services immediately and notify them that you have confirmed coronavirus disease. Avoid taking public transport to the facility – either use private transport (preferably with windows rolled-down) or call emergency services for an ambulance if required. You should wear a face mask if you travel to seek hospital care.

Clean your sick room/area every day, first using regular household soap and then after rinsing, using regular household disinfectant containing 0.5% sodium hypochlorite (make this using 1 part 5% bleach to 9 parts water).

If someone else cleans your sick room/area, they should use personal protective equipment including single-use or utility gloves and a plastic apron while cleaning.

If you have a home carer, your carer should adhere to home-based infection control recommendations, including use of personal protective equipment.

Do not share eating utensils, towels, bedding with others in your household.

Shared spaces should be well ventilated. If a fan is available, point it out of one window and keep another window open to facilitate increased air exchange in the room.

SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES

  • Do not leave your house unless it’s essential.

  • Do not attend school or classes as of Wednesday, 18 March until after Easter.

  • Do not attend gatherings of more than 100 people

  • Greet people using your elbows or feet.

  • Keep your house as clean as possible and disinfect utensils, surfaces, floors and furniture.

  • Avoid using the same utensils and bathroom facilities as a sick person.

  • Make sure you disinfect your bathroom area as droplets can be transmitted

  • Open windows and doors to let fresh air inside at all times.

  • Avoid going out to restaurants, clubs, malls and other public spaces.

  • Check on your loved ones through social media and your smartphone.

  • Hold out on any non-essential physical socialising like going on a date or partying with friends.

  • Cancel any playdates and playground time for the kids.

HOW TO FLATTEN THE CURVE AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT

The “curve” refers to the projected number of people who will contract COVID-19 over a period of time.

A steep curve means an over-burdened health system.

The curve takes on different shapes, depending on the virus’s infection rate. It could be a steep curve, in which the virus spreads aggressively. In this case, counts keep doubling at a consistent rate & the total number of cases skyrocket to peak within a few weeks.

Infection curves with a steep rise also have a steep fall. After the virus infects pretty much everyone who can be infected, case numbers begin to drop quickly too.

The faster the infection curve rises, the quicker health care system will get overloaded beyond its capacity to treat people.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU RECOVER FROM CORONAVIRUS?

So you tested positive, isolated or went through treatment. Read up on what happens after you recover.

KEY CONTACT NUMBERS
Official Toll-Free Call Center: 0800 029 999

Clinicians Hotline: 082 883 9920

Official WhatsApp Help Service: Send "Hi" to 0600 123 456 on WhatsApp.

Temporary Employer-Employee Relief SchemeCall Centre: 012 337 1997 or email Corona19ters@labour.gov.za

SASSA call centre: 0800 60 10 11

Solidarity Fund call centre: 0860 001 001 or email info@solidarityfund.co.za

For medical enquiries: National Institute for Communicable Diseases 0800 029 999

Family members who require more information about their loved ones who will be repatriated can contact the Department of International Relations and Corporation (DIRCO) on the following contact details:
Email address: cicc1@dirco.gov.za or cicc2@dirco.gov.za

Telephone number: 012 351 1754

Presidential Hotline: 17737(should be used when all your attempts to get assistance from a government department, province, municipality or state agency have failed.)

Gender-based violence command centre: 0800 428 428, 0800 120 7867

Mental Health Information Line: 0800 567 567

Military Police Crime line: 0800 222 091

National Health System Ethics Line: 0800 20 14 144 14

For information on support to SMMEs in distress: 086 066 37867

For information on reporting undue price increases: 0800 141 880.

For information on tourism, hospitality services and travel restrictions: 0860 868 747 or email callcentre@tourism.gov.za

SA Depression Anxiety Group (SADAG): 0800 21 22 23 / 0800 70 80 90

SADAG WhatsApp support (9am-4pm): 076 882 2775 / or SMS 31393 or 32312 and a counsellor will call you back

Lifeline South Africa: 0861 322 322

PAYMENT HOLIDAYS BY THE BIG BANKS

With the economic realities of the 21-day coronavirus lockdown in South Africa hitting home, the country's big banks have stepped forward to offer some relief to some of its clients through payment holidays.

Read our full list of the various payment holiday terms being offered by the big banks.

LEAVE DURING THE LOCKDOWN

What obligations do employers have towards their employees' wellbeing during the lockdown?

Speaking on 702, Employment and Labour Department Director-General Thobile Lamati said if there is ever an opportunity for employers to care for their employees, now is the time.

Listen to the audio below for more.