COVID-19: What you need to know

Visit, the COVID-19 Coronavirus South African Resource Portal, for the latest news on COVID-19 in South Africa. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe, including important resources and some frequently asked questions.

Important resources

To stay safe and informed with the latest facts, these are the trustworthy sources of information:

1. Sacoronavirus
2. National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)
3. Life Healthcare
4. South African government
5. World Health Organization

Q: What is COVID-19?

A: Coronavirus is a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold, to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). According to, South Africa’s official COVID-19 online news and information portal, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent of what we now know as COVID-19. The disease has spread to more than 100 countries, including South Africa.

Q: What are the symptoms of someone infected with a coronavirus?

A: While symptoms can vary from person to person, the World Health Organization reports that the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Check your symptoms using the Life Healthcare app.

Q: How is COVID-19 treated?

A: The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) advises South Africans that treatment is supportive, for example, providing patients with oxygen for shortness of breath or analgesics for treatment of fever. There is no specific antiviral treatment available. Antibiotics do not treat viral infections, however, antibiotics may be used to treat a bacterial secondary infection.

Q: What’s the best way to protect yourself from contracting COVID-19?

A: There are a few simple steps you need to take to stay safe:

1. Wash your hands regularly with soap or 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.
4. 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, such as mobile phones, laptops, countertops, door handles and keys.

Q: When should you be tested?

A: If you develop any of the symptoms described above and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or have recently travelled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, stay at home, but call your GP or healthcare practitioner so that they can assess the need for a test. You can only get a test if you have authorization from your GP or healthcare practitioner.

Q: What is the lockdown and what further precautions is South Africa taking?

A: From 26 March 2020 to 16 April 2020 South Africa has been placed under lockdown. Read the latest updates as the situation evolves.

To keep yourself and others safe during the lockdown, it’s imperative that you stay at home and only leave to do the following:

1. Buy essential food or medicine
2. Get urgent medical attention
3. Access banking services
4. Buy petrol
5. Collect a social grant

Failure to adhere to the rules set out by government could result in arrest or criminal charges.

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