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Your Covid-19 questions answered

I have just tested positive for Covid-19, now what?

06 July 2021 - 07:00 By kyle zeeman
Testing positive for Covid-19 can bring a range of emotions but there are a few handy tips that will help you stay calm and in control. Stock photo.
Testing positive for Covid-19 can bring a range of emotions but there are a few handy tips that will help you stay calm and in control. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/atic12

Testing positive for Covid-19 can bring a flood of emotions, from panic to anxiety, but healthcare professionals say it is important to keep a clear head and take some proactive steps to protect yourself and your family.

SA has seen a spike in Covid-19 infections over the past few weeks, with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) reporting on Sunday a positivity rate of more than 30%. The rate measures the number of positive results against the number of tests taken in the same period.

Dr Marlin McKay, who runs his own medical practice in Roodepoort, told TimesLIVE that as more people test positive for the virus, it is important to keep calm and isolate.

“My first recommendation would be to isolate. Even if you are thinking of taking a test, you should isolate. You cannot go for the test and then go to work. The goal is to limit the potential spread of the virus,” he said.

“You should not spend time with your family or colleagues. I advise my patients to go straight home and straight into isolation.”

Once in isolation there are simple things you can do to make you feel better and help you fight off the virus, he said.

“Lie on your stomach (this helps increase the amount of oxygen that's getting to your lungs), start steaming, get some sunshine and stock up on vitamins. Then get medication to limit the infection and prevent pneumonia or blood clots.”

He said treatment is tailor-made for the patient based on age, comorbidities and severity of the condition.


The NICD recommended similar action, urging those who have just tested positive for the virus to refrain from going out and to work, stop using public transport and self-isolate (ideally alone in a room and away from other family members or roommate) for no less that 10 days.

“If practical, avoid sharing a bathroom with other individuals. If you have to share a bathroom with others, clean commonly touched surfaces after every use to minimise the risk of infection,” it added.

During the quarantine period it’s important to keep an eye on your symptoms and to call your doctor if you are concerned about your health. If serious symptoms such as shortness of breath persists, you should seek immediate medical attention at a hospital.

“For those living on their own, ask family or friends to help with grocery shopping, or use online delivery services.

“Pet owners should ask for help in taking care of their pets. If this is not an option, wear a mask and wash your hands before and after any interaction with your pets. And even though it will be difficult, remember to avoid cuddles.

“Those who share accommodation (hostels, university residence or similar) with a communal kitchen, bathrooms and living areas, should remain in their room and only leave when necessary (and wearing a mask if they do so).

“If you are unable to meet the minimum criteria to safely self-isolate, you should be admitted to an appropriate isolation facility, if available.”


The NICD suggested washing your clothes at the highest possible temperature compatible with the fabric.

“This should be above 60°C if possible. Clean the area around the washing machine. Laundry should not be taken to a launderette. If possible, the items should be tumble-dried and ironed using the highest setting compatible with the fabric.”


“If you manage your symptoms in the safety of your residence, you can de-isolate after 10 days if no new symptoms have presented. And only if you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without pharmaceutical intervention,” the NICD said.