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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

South Africa COVID-19 Common Questions

  • What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
  • How is COVID-19 infection treated?
  • Can I go to school or work?
  • Who is at higher risk of getting the virus?
  • How long does the virus survive on surfaces?
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

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 diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention

How is COVID-19 infection treated?

There is no specific treatment available for SARS-CoV-2. Treatment is supportive (e.g. providing oxygen for patients with shortness of breath or managing a fever). Antibiotics do not treat viral infections. However, antibiotics may be required if a secondary bacterial infection develops. Currently there is a vaccine being developed.

Can I go to school or work?

Anyone who is sick or displaying symptoms should not go to school or work. If you have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, you should self-isolate for 14 days from the date of close contact. If you are concerned, contact your medical practitioner for further advice.

Who is at higher risk of getting the virus?

Those at higher risk of contracting the virus include the elderly and individuals with chronic conditions or a compromised immune system. Chronic conditions include high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and lung disease amongst others.

How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

SA Coronavirus Portal

What is COVID-19?
Human Coronaviruses are common throughout the world. There are many different coronaviruses identified in animals but only a small number of these can cause disease in humans.

On 7 January 2020, ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2’ (SARS-CoV-2) was confirmed as the causative agent of ‘Coronavirus Disease 2019’ or COVID-19. The majority of the case-patients initially identified were dealers and vendors at a seafood, poultry and live wildlife market in China. Since then, the virus has spread to more than 100 countries, including South Africa.

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