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Staying safe during COVID-19

Sunday evening sparked panic and anxiety in many South Africans as President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation and declared COVID-19 a “national disaster” after evidence presented 50+ positive cases of the Coronavirus in South Africa.

Here, at Voices Unite, we would like you to remain calm during this turbulent period and understand what COVID-19 is and how you can take the necessary safety measures to remain safe.

What are Coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of respiratory viruses that result in illness ranging from the common cold to life-threatening diseases. Coronavirus disease, often referred to as COVID-19, is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and was not previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic – meaning they can be passed on from animals to humans. However, there are several known coronaviruses within animals that have not yet infected the human population.

What are the common signs of infection?

There are various signs of infection which include a weakened respiratory system, fever, cough, shortness of breath, as well as breathing difficulties. In more critical cases, COVID-19 can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and eventually – death. Most people who become infected experience mild illness and discomfort, but recovery is possible! It can be more severe for others, so we suggest you should start taking care of your health and educating the people around you by doing the following:

  1. Wash your hands frequently

An alcohol-based hand sanitiser or normal water and soap should be used as often as possible when washing your hands, as these products can prevent the virus from spreading.

  1. Maintain social distance

Try to maintain a 1-meter distance between yourself and anyone you’re in contact with irrespective of whether they’re in good health. If someone coughs or sneezes, small droplets are sprayed into the air which may contain the virus. Maintaining a social distance may prevent you from breathing in these droplets and being in contact with COVID-19.

  1. Avoid touching your face

We’re all guilty of randomly touching our face during the day for several reasons but our hands also touch many surfaces during the day as well. Our hands could possibly pick up the virus which could transfer to either our eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus has a chance of entering your body.

  1. Respiratory Mannerisms

Make sure you’re surrounded by people that practice good respiratory hygiene, and if you don’t, try to educate them. Respiratory mannerisms include covering your nose and mouth with your bent arm or a tissue when you sneeze or cough.  And don’t hang on to used tissues for too long, make sure you dispose of them as soon as possible. Remember, good respiratory hygiene is one step closer to protecting yourself and the people around you.

  1. Seek medical attention

If you have a fever, dry cough or finding it difficult to breathe, seek medical care by calling your medical provider before physically showing up to your doctor’s surgery. By calling in advance and making the necessary arrangements, your health care provider will be able to direct you to the correct facility which will reduce panic in waiting rooms and prevent the spread of viruses and other infections.

  1. Trust your source!

Always make sure you’re getting your information regarding COVID-19 from a reliable source as there are many hoax sites and ‘official letters’ circulating on social media.

Amongst the memes and challenges doing the rounds on social media, and the sudden stockpiling, we need to remember that the panic spreads faster than the virus. For now, reduce social gatherings, travel and mall visits, and focus on what’s most important to you – your health!

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