COVID-19 – What you must know

Empower yourself with must know facts. View the video and the frequently asked information.

Learn more about the symptoms, diagnosis and ways to protect yourself and your family.

Dr Charl van Loggerenberg, General Manager: Emergency Medicine at Life Healthcare – answers your questions.


View the video on how to hand-wash effectively


Frequently Asked Questions

What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?

  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

Does the virus spread from person to person?

  • The virus can spread from one person to another, mainly through droplets of saliva or mucus carried through the air for up to 1 metre or so when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Viral particles may be breathed in, land on surfaces that people touch, or be transferred when shaking hands or sharing a drink with someone who has the virus.

What are the symptoms of the new coronavirus (COVID-19)?

  • General symptoms:
    • Fever
    • Dry cough
    • Trouble breathing
    • Sore throat
    • Body aches
    • Chills
    • Loss of smell or loss of taste
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Fatigue
    • Weakness
  • It is possible that gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea) can occur before respiratory symptoms occur. However, it is primarily a respiratory virus. Those who have the virus may have no obvious symptoms (be asymptomatic) or symptoms ranging from mild to severe. In some cases, the virus can cause pneumonia and be potentially life-threatening.

What should I do if I think I or a loved one has contracted the coronavirus?

  • If you have a general practitioner, call them first for advice. It is far more likely to be the seasonal flu or another viral illness. If you do not have a doctor and you are concerned that you or your child may have coronavirus, contact your local hospital for assistance or advice. Only people with symptoms of severe respiratory illness should go to their nearest emergency unit. Severe symptoms are rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, high or very low temperatures, confusion, trouble breathing and severe dehydration. However, inform them of your arrival prior to entering the unit.

How can I reduce my chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19?

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
    • Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
    • Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and make you sick.
  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately and wash your hands.
    • Why? Droplets spread viruses. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call the healthcare authorities in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
    • Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
  • Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow the advice given by your healthcare provider or your national and local public health authority on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
    • Why? National and local authorities will have the most up-to-date information on whether or not COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best-placed to advise you on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.
  • Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid travelling to places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
    • Why? You have a higher chance of catching COVID-19 in one of these areas.

For more information – click on the downloads section for the full FAQ and the COVID-19: symptoms, diagnoses and reducing risk poster. 



The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a healthcare professional. E&OE. Life Healthcare Group Ltd does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage suffered by the reader as a result of the information provided.