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Keeping you informed on COVID-19, otherwise known as the novel coronavirus.

As you will no doubt be aware, there is currently an outbreak of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which is raising global concern as it continues to spread across the world. This site has been created to keep you up to date with the latest information and breaking news regarding the virus, its spread and what steps to take for prevention and treatment.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

News from around the world

Frequently asked questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers about the coronavirus (COVID-19), which we hope will put your mind at rest.

What are the most common signs and symptoms of the coronavirus?

Symptoms may appear in as little as two days, or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms of infection may include coughing, fever, congestion of the nose and throat and shortness of breath.

How exactly is this coronavirus, and are we as South Africans at risk?

Coronaviruses belong to a large family of viruses that include the MERS and SARS viruses, and can cause a wide spectrum of respiratory illnesses. Although the virus is contagious and may be potentially life threatening in a few people, the risk of contracting it in South Africa is currently low, with no cases having been confirmed in this country at this time.

What should you do if you develop signs and symptoms?

If you do develop respiratory illness symptoms, visit your healthcare provider and ensure that you disclose your full travel history to them. Your healthcare provider will advise you if you should be tested for the novel coronavirus.

Should you use a mask?

If you are healthy, you need to wear a mask if you are in public, taking care of a person with suspected coronavirus infection, or if you are coughing and/or sneezing. Remember that masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub, or soap and water. If you do wear a mask, make sure you know how to use it and always dispose of it properly.

How is the virus spread?

The coronavirus is spread in a similar way to influenza (flu) viruses, which is through: The COVID-19 virus is spread in a similar way to influenza (flu) viruses, which is through: 
• Direct contact with other infected people.
• Droplets generated through coughs or sneezes.
• Contact with infected surfaces such as tabletops and shared objects like utensils etc.
• Faecal-oral contact.

Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (COVID-19)?

To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus. Those infected with the virus should nevertheless receive appropriate medical care to according to their symptoms.

Some specific treatments are under investigation and will be tested through clinical trials. The World Health Organization (WHO) is helping to accelerate research in this area.

Do vaccines against pneumonia protect you against the new coronavirus (COVID-19)?

No, vaccines against flu and/or pneumonia, such as a pneumococcal vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.

What should you keep in mind when travelling internationally?

All individuals planning travel should seek advice on the potential hazards of their chosen destinations and understand how best to minimise the risk of acquiring infectious illnesses such as the coronavirus.

Should you develop symptoms of an acute respiratory illness before, during or after travel, you are encouraged to seek medical attention and share your travel history with your healthcare provider.

Can pets at home spread the new coronavirus (COVID-19)?

At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets, such as dogs or cats, can be infected with the new coronavirus.

Is it safe to receive a letter or a package from China?

Yes, it is safe. People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.