Coronavirus: What to do when you suspect you may have been exposed

There is widespread panic in South Africa following the first confirmed case of coronavirus in KwaZulu Natal. How to avoid infection and what to do in the event of infection are the most important questions that need answers at the stage for many.

On Thursday the ministry of health confirmed that a 38-year-old man who had returned from Italy, where he and his wife were part of a tour group, had tested positive for COVID-19.

The couple, who are from KwaZulu-Natal, returned home on March 1 and the husband consulted a doctor on March 3 after presenting flu-like symptoms, including headache, fever and a cough.

He tested positive for COVID-19 and has been self-isolating since then, the ministry said. The doctor has also been in isolation since March 3.

Screening for coronavirus infection procedure

The Western Cape Department of Health has put together a list of steps that can help answer most questions:

WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT STEPS TO FOLLOW WHEN EXPERIENCING FLU SYMPTOMS?

  • If flu-like symptoms occur, please follow normal practice: visit a health facility and report specific details (travel overseas or potential exposure). This applies to public and private sectors.
  • The healthcare practitioner will determine whether tests are required and consult with provincial authorities and notify NICD
  • If the patient fits the case definition they will either be isolated, or requested to self-isolate at home
  • Tests are confirmed within 24-48 hours and the patient will be notified
  • If positive, patient will be monitored closely, isolated and treated supportively. This may also involve self-isolation at home (with no contact with outside people)
  • If negative, the patient needs to continue medical treatment as prescribed by health practitioner
  • If positive, family, friends, colleagues and other contacts will be followed up for contact tracing (monitoring for symptoms)

Read also: Where in KZN, Coronavirus patient comes from

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP FIGHT THE VIRUS?

  • Please follow normal preventative health hygiene practice (hand washing, coughing etiquette) to keep healthy
  • Please seek medical help when experiencing flu symptoms
  • Disclose history and exposure
  • Please co-operate with isolation and quarantine advisories
  • Please co-operate with contact tracing instructions (temperature checks and follow up communication)
  • Please do not share fake news. Share information responsibly.
  • Check and share information from official Health channels or WHO

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