KEY INFO ON COVID-19
What is it?
Human coronaviruses exist throughout the world. The name corona refers to a crown because these viruses have crown-like spikes on their surface when viewed under an electron microscope. Sometimes coronaviruses infecting animals can evolve to cause disease in humans and become a new (novel) coronavirus for humans. Examples of this are the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV). On 7 January 2020, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was confirmed as the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
What symptoms should I look out for?
Symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness with cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or fever [≥ 38°C (measured) or history of fever. The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is still not fully clear. Reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.
Who is at particular risk?
COVID-19 affects young and old. However, the elderly, individuals with co-morbidities, international travellers and healthcare workers have been found to be at a higher risk of morbidity and mortality associated with the disease.
How can I protect myself and my loved ones?
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an appropriate alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Maintain social distancing on an ongoing basis.
- Observe the national lockdown period. Stay at home and keep distance from others at home.
- 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.
- Avoid contact with farm or wild animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
Who can I contact for advice / help?
The National COVID-19 Helpline number is 0800 029 999.
You may also call our Emergency & Trauma Department on 033 341 5010 at our Hospital.
What about screening and testing?
Our hospital is conducting ongoing screening of people at our Masukwana (East) Street entrance, as well as our Langalibalele (Longmarket) Street parkade entrance.
Several testing options are available in the Pietermaritzburg area, including:
- A drive-through testing site at Nizamia School (Masukwana Street), opposite our hospital; A telephonic booking and payment via EFT must be made upfront. Individuals must meet the NICD criteria and they require a doctor’s referral letter. Call 0800 786 911 for more information.
- Lancet Lab testing site in the forecourt on the ground floor of our hospital (162 Masukwana Street); Call 033 264 4340 for more information.
- Ampath Lab testing site (381 Boshoff Street); Call 033 264 6660 / 6 for more information.
- JDJ Diagnostics testing site (22 Payne Street or 595 Chota Motala Road); Call 033 816 6200 for more information.
- Flowpath Lab testing site (311 Bulwer Street); Call 033 342 2357 for more information.
What useful contacts can I access online?
- World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
- National Institute of Communicable Diseases: https://www.nicd.ac.za/diseases-a-z-index/covid-19/
What are the guidelines for Home Quarantine for COVID-19?
- You should quarantine yourself at home. Don’t go to work.
- You should wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Alcohol- based sanitizers may also be used, with at least 70% alcohol.
- Do not have visitors in your home. If it is urgent to speak to someone, do this over the phone.
- You should wear a facemask when in the same room or vehicle.
- At home, you must stay in a specific room and use your own bathroom. If you stay in shared accommodation with communal kitchen, bathroom and living area, you should stay in your room with door closed, only coming out when necessary, wearing a facemask.
- You should practice good hygiene by coughing or sneezing into a tissue, discarding the tissue immediately afterwards in a lined trash can and then wash your hands.
- Wash your laundry (clothes etc.) at the highest temperature compatible for the fabric using laundry detergent. This should be above 60 degree Celsius. If possible, tumble dry and iron using highest setting compatible with the fabric. Wear disposable gloves and a plastic apron when handling soiled materials if possible and clean all surfaces and the area around washing machine.
- Do not take laundry to a Laundromat. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling dirty laundry.
- You should avoid sharing household items like dishes, cups, eating utensils and towels. After using any of these items should be thoroughly washed with soap and hot water.
- Frequently clean all high – touch surfaces like table-tops, counters, toilet, phones, computers, etc. with a household disinfectant.
- Clean and disinfect toilet surfaces with regular household bleach solution/phenolic disinfectants.
- Monitor your symptoms- seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening and not an emergency, in case of emergency call an ambulance, inform the call handler and hospital about the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) status. Our emergency department be reached on 033 341 5010.
*Sources: National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD); World Health Organisation (WHO)