Last updated on May 29th, 2020 at 10:33 pm
With three confirmed cases in Africa, what can you do to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 should it hit South Africa?
Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) has yet to declare the COID-19 epidemic a pandemic, cases of the disease have been confirmed in over 50 countries.
Due to how quickly the disease is spreading outside China, many health experts are saying that a pandemic is highly likely.
Some countries are preparing for a pandemic, like Australia where the Prime Minister has announced the activation of the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). There are 23 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country as of 28 February.
Travel-screening catches fewer than half of infected people
Another concern is that people may carry the virus for days without symptoms.
According to a study by Professor James Lloyd-Smith and a team of University of California – Los Angeles scientists, this is one of the reasons why current travel-related screening methods may catch fewer than half of the infected people.
This has already played out in the UK when some of the British Diamond Princess cruise ship evacuees who had no symptoms when boarding their flight home later tested positive for the virus.
Since these evacuees had already spent two weeks in quarantine on board the cruise ship, this has also raised questions about the incubation period for the virus being longer than 14 days.
Africa needs to prepare
After the second case of the virus in Africa was reported in Algeria on 27 February, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa warned, “The window of opportunity the continent has had to prepare for coronavirus disease is closing. All countries must ramp up their preparedness activities.”
Today, Africa’s third case of COVID-19 was reported in Nigeria. This is the first case in sub-Saharan Africa.
How to protect yourself and your family
With the rapid spread of the virus, what can you do to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 should it hit South Africa?
In a live Q&A session about the virus, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, a respiratory health expert and the World Health Organisation’s technical consultant for the COVID-19, says that there are many things you can do to protect yourself and to protect your family against this novel coronavirus.
Here are some of her top tips for protecting against the virus:
Wash your hands regularly
“The first thing is very simple – the first thing is to wash your hands regularly,” says Dr Van Kerkhove, “… Wash your hands with soap and water and make sure you to get your kids to wash their hands. If you don’t have soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based rub.”
Practise respiratory etiquette
Instead of coughing or sneezing into your hand, use your folded elbow or a tissue. When using a tissue, throw it away when finished and wash your hands immediately afterwards.
Keep your distance from sick people
“What we know about this virus is how it transmits between people is through close contact and respiratory droplets. Which means you have to be close to one another, within a metre or two,” says Dr Kerkhove.
This means that one precaution is to stay away from someone who is coughing or sneezing.
To learn more, watch the video below…
Prevention is best
Scientists are working on a vaccine and possible treatments for COVID-19, but currently there is no known cure, which is why prevention is more important than ever.
In the US, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that travellers avoid all nonessential travel to mainland China and South Korea. They have also issued travel alerts for older people and people with chronic medical conditions to consider postponing nonessential travel to Italy, Iran and Japan.
Sources: Nytimes.com: Coronavirus news, Health.gov.au: Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert , BBC.com: Coronavirus: Four new UK cases among ship evacuees, University of California – Los Angeles via www.sciencedaily.com, CNN: Preparing for a pandemic: What should I buy? Are there places I should avoid? and The World Health Organisation
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