Council: Most medical schemes to cover coronavirus treatment

Normally, a virus-like the COVID-19 would not be covered under prescribed minimum benefits.

This handout illustration image obtained 27 February 2020 courtesy of the National Institutes of Health taken with a transmission electron microscope shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the US, as virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab - the spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN /JOHANNESBURG -The South African Council for Medical Schemes on Sunday said most health insurance providers would pay for the treatment of coronavirus.

Normally, a virus-like the COVID-19 would not be covered under prescribed minimum benefits.

But the council's Sipho Kabane said most schemes would provide extra cover.

“We have been talking to schemes and some of them have come forward saying they want to extend their rules to cover coronavirus as part of their risk pool and almost provide comprehensive cover. We’re encouraging other schemes to do that as well.”

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At the same time, the Department of Transport has warned commuters using public transport to increase personal hygiene with three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Africa.

A KwaZulu-Natal couple and a Gauteng woman were part of a group of 10 people who travelled to Italy.

The Department of Health is now awaiting test results from the rest of the group.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula's spokesperson Ayanda Allie-Paine said commuters using taxis, trains or busses must carry hand sanitiser with them as an extra precaution when exchanging and handling money.

“To passengers who use public transport, we call on you to exercise good hygiene; wash your hands with soap and water as and when possible and if not, do use a hand sanitiser as much as you possibly can.”

There are still no travel bans in place for South Africans who are travelling abroad to countries where there are confirmed coronavirus cases like northern Italy.

However, professor of vaccinology at Wits University Shabir Madhi has advised South Africans to cancel non-essential trips to these destinations.

The Transport Department said it was monitoring travel developments closely but for now, it was confident all the checks for COVID-19 at ports of entry were sufficient.