Coronavirus: Updates, Symptoms & Prevention Tips


Jade Poole from I Write Words


Following the nation’s state of address, we have put together a guide to keeping calm, staying safe and preventing the spread of the virus. We also have a summary list of the president’s advice and important points from his speech.

There is no need to panic

The first thing you need to realise is that there is no reason to panic.

According to the South African Government website for the coronavirus, as many as 82% of COVID-19 cases are mild, which means that patients only experience a slight fever, fatigue and cough. These symptoms are similar to those of the flu.

Only about 6% of patients with the virus need intensive care.

The vast majority of people can stay at home, self-isolate and get better without any need for hospital treatment.

Facts on Coronavirus

According to WHO “Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.”

Symptoms of COVID-19

People who contract the Coronavirus can take from one to 14 days to develop and show symptoms.

Symptoms of infection include:

●        Fever

●        Cough

●        Sore throat

●        Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

The initial symptoms are very similar to those of the common cold.

Doctors can only treat the symptoms of COVID-19 as they present.

How the virus spreads

COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs:

  1. Coughing or sneezing (standing within one meter of an infected person and breathing in droplets that are sneezed or coughed out)
  2. Close personal contact such as touching others or shaking hands
  3. Touching a surface or object after an infected person has coughed, touched (after not washing their hands) or sneezed on this surface

How to prevent the spread of COVID-19

  1. 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.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick - Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  4. Stay at home when you are sick and try and keep a distance from others at home.
  5. Cover your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the bin.
  6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

How is COVID-19 treated?

There is currently no FDA approved medication for the virus. Those who are infected with COVID-19 should receive supportive care that treats their symptoms, such as rest, fluids and fever control.

For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.

Who is most at risk?

According to the SA government’s website on the coronavirus:

“Currently, travellers to areas where there is ongoing sustained transmission of COVID-19 including Mainland China (all provinces), Hong Kong, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, Italy and the Islamic Republic of Iran are at greatest risk of infection.

Furthermore, the elderly, individuals with co-morbidities and healthcare workers have been found to be at a higher risk of death.”

What to do if you are sick

These facts are from the CDC website, a reliable and reputable source.

Call your doctor:  If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

Steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick

Unless it is a medical emergency, to reduce your risk of catching or spreading illness, stay home if you feel sick, even if your symptoms are only mild. You should not go to work, school or public places, and you should avoid public transportation.

If your symptoms are severe or you feel like you need to see a doctor, call your doctor’s rooms before you go to a doctor’s office, urgent care centre or emergency room. Describe your symptoms over the phone.

Stay calm

The possibility of having a contagious illness can be scary, but doctors, nurses and other medical experts are learning more and more about coronavirus every single day. They are working together with national and international agencies to identify and provide care to patients while avoiding the spread of the illness in our community and on a global scale.

Summary of the state of address

Government of South Africa declared a National State of Disaster

  1. Infected as of Sunday the 15th of March: 61
  2. Travel Ban from High Risk (Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, UK, USA and China as of 18 March 2020)
  3. South Africans are to Refrain from travelling to - UK, USA, Europe, China, Iran and South Korea
  4. People who visited High-Risk areas from the middle of February 2020  are required to come in for testing
  5. South Africa has 72 ports of entry via land, sea and air - 53 Land Ports, 35 Shut down as of Monday
  6. Social distancing is encouraged
  7. Public holiday celebrations to be cancelled
  8. Gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited
  9. All mass celebration public holidays cancelled
  10. Schools to be closed from 18 March until after the Easter weekend - To compensate – June holidays will be shorter
  11. Visits to correctional facilities suspended for 30 days
  12. Businesses and public entertainment facilities to intensify health measures
  13. Government is working with the World Health Organisation and acting effectively will limit the effects on people.

As citizens, we need to change our behaviour:

  1. Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and use hand sanitiser if you cannot access soap and water
  2. Cover nose and mouth with a tissue/ flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing
  3. Avoid close contact with persons who have cold or flu-like symptoms
  4. Minimise physical contact and discourage handshakes as a greeting mechanism
  5. DO NOT spread fake and unverified news/ messages – fear and ignorance will only result in unnecessary panic

Remember - stay calm, don’t panic and practise safe and effective techniques and tips for preventing the spread of the disease.

Yours in health,


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