Dear SAMWUMED Member,
Further to our previous communication, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on the 15th of March 2020, announcing a range of measures to try and stem the COVID-19 pandemic. The South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the National Department of Health (NDoH) have published several documents and alerts on how the outbreak should be managed and these are available on their respective websites. Members are therefore encouraged to follow the daily alerts and updates.
Below we’ve answered some Frequently Asked Questions to address concerns received from our members.
It should not be necessary, but there is an emergency 24 hour hotline for your doctor to call them if required.
There is no cure, nor any vaccine yet to combat this disease. Your doctor will treat your symptoms as they present. For example, if you have a runny nose or fever or breathing problem, he/she will treat it accordingly as you would if you had a cold or flu. If there are complications, for example bacterial infections such as pneumonia, you will be treated with antibiotics or possibly hospitalised depending on the severity of your condition. Again, please remember that not all positive COVID-19 cases will require hospitalisation.
Yes, all hospitals have clearly defined protocols which they will follow in the event of being faced with identified or potential cases. All providers also know how to deal with the various scenarios.
Your doctor will guide you. Please remember that not all confirmed cases will require hospitalisation. You might be advised by your doctor to remain in isolation at home for a specified period of time which may be anything from 14 to 28 days to be on the safe side. If your symptoms worsen while you are at home, please consult your doctor immediately again, taking the necessary precautions on your way there so that you don’t expose others unintentionally. Your doctor will then decide whether you need to be admitted or not.
The current time it takes for the tests to be completed by the NICD is approximately 72 hours. During this period, it is advisable to stay indoors and remain isolated until the results have been confirmed. The same would apply to your immediate household.
Your doctor will co-ordinate everything for you, including sending your tests to the NICD and when feedback is received, he/she will contact you and direct you further to the nearest facility.
No, only your doctor can request this as it will be done by the NICD (National Institute for Communicable Diseases) if you meet the criteria to be considered as a Person Under Investigation (PUI). A PUI is considered to be someone who has travelled internationally within the last 6 weeks and/or has been exposed to someone confirmed with the infection. This is to avoid testing for individuals who are just ‘worried but well’.
Sore throat, runny nose, flu symptoms, fever, malaise (general feeling of weakness, tiredness, lethargy, muscle aches), problem with breathing, headaches.
If you have travelled internationally to a country where there has been a confirmed outbreak or have been in contact with someone who was infected or exposed, it would be advisable to telephonically contact your Family Practitioner immediately for a check-up. Refrain from visiting your doctor without first phoning the practice to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
Yes, if you are confirmed positive for COVID-19, you will be covered from the risk benefit and not from your day-to-day benefits.
We also have assurance that all outbreak prevention and infection control measures are being followed in hospitals and at ports of entry. Therefore, COVID-19 virus is still well contained in South Africa, but if you believe you are at risk, our advice is to:
- Self-isolate immediately, and
- Phone your doctor.
We again urge you to continue being vigilant in protecting yourself and others by doing the following:
- Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
- Practice respiratory hygiene, by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze;
- If possible, postpone any unnecessary local or international travel, especially to affected countries;
- For members returning from affected countries, discuss your plans with your employer on possibilities of self-quarantine (e.g. working from home for 14 days after return) and if you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you need to get tested via your doctor. If the test is negative, you should return to work after 72 hours.
Although the risk to our members still appears to be low at this stage, we will continue to monitor the situation around COVID-19 and will share any pertinent information that may affect our members’ health.