Don't panic – 10 things you need to know about the coronavirus

05 March 2020 - 18:16 By Claire Keeton
Stock photo.
Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Jarun Ontakrai

With SA confirming its first case of the coronavirus, here are 10 things you should know about the outbreak. 

• Most people who catch the coronavirus have only mild symptoms, especially children and young adults. About 80% of those who get symptoms “recover without needing special treatment”, says the World Health Organisation (WHO).

• About one in six people who get infected must be admitted to hospital because they become seriously ill and struggle to breathe. Older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions are more at risk.

• The time between infection and symptoms can be up to 14 days, says the WHO. The incubation period could be up to 24 days, some scientists report.

• The estimated mortality rate of 2.3% to 3.4% (2/100) is not a final statistic. It is based on people with symptoms and not on everyone exposed to Covid-19.  People with no or mild symptoms are not counted in this percentage, as they should be for true mortality.

• Fever, tiredness and a dry cough are the most common symptoms.

• Antibiotics will not help, this is a viral infection.

• No effective vaccine has been developed yet for Covid-19.

• The coronavirus has spread to 79 countries with more than 95,000 confirmed cases and  3,280 deaths. In some countries it has not spread rapidly.

• The 38-year-old man from KwaZulu-Natal who has coronavirus is the only person, out of 181 people tested by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases by Wednesday in SA, to be confirmed as positive by Thursday at 5pm.

• To protect yourself wash your hands, cough into disposable tissues or your elbow, and do not touch your face with unwashed hands.

Sources: World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD)

Health minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed the first case of the Coronavirus in South Africa on March 5 2020. Speaking at a media briefing in Cape Town, the minister said that a 38-year-old man who tested positive for Covid-19 is a South African citizen who travelled through OR Tambo International Airport and took a connecting flight to KwaZulu-Natal.


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