Let’s stop the spread, of virus says Province

South Africa - Lockdown - Pretoria - 29 March 2020 - A picture of hand glove and a face mask that symbolises the prevention of the spread of the deadly Coronavirus shot on the bacground of a graffitti that says God Bless Africa at corner Nelson Mandela drive and Helen Joseph street. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

In line with international and national advice, the provincial Department of Health is raising awareness of the importance of isolation for people infected with Covid-19 and the quarantine of their contacts to suppress the spread of the coronavirus.

The department says particularly in areas of high population density, where it is not possible to isolate at your own home, it is vital that positive cases and their households are able to stay apart from their community to stop the further spread of the virus.

When are people required to isolate?

When they have tested positive for Covid-19, they will be required to isolate themselves for 14 days.

People who may have no symptoms but are a close contact of a confirmed (received test results) case, should isolate themselves for 14 days.

People who have symptoms and are not sure if they have Covid-19 (may be awaiting testing or test results), should isolate as a precaution. If the test is negative, the person can move about in their household.

People who have been a close contact of a known positive case who is awaiting their test results, will be required to isolate (quarantine) as a precaution until the test results become available.

If tests of the person under investigation are negative, the contacts can move about in their household. If the tests come back positive they need to isolate for 14 days.

Should anyone in the household in isolation develop symptoms during the 14 days isolation period, they should be tested, and the isolation period should be followed starting from the day of symptoms developing.

Isolation in this instance means staying indoors and completely avoiding contact with other people.

What practical measures can an ill person take to safely self-
isolate?

Stay at home in a different room (and use a different bathroom if possible).

Do not leave the house.

Do not have visitors.

Use different cutlery and crockery than the rest of the household.

Separate laundry and have a special rubbish disposal.

It is also advised that your household gets assistance from outside (having food delivered is a good idea) because the whole household may also be in quarantine for symptoms. This means they also cannot leave the house.

What happens if you cannot safely isolate at home due to your living conditions?

If someone cannot safely isolate at home due to circumstances, the health team will refer them to an isolation facility where they will receive temporary care away from home.

The provincial government and municipalities are providing comfortable facilities where positive Covid-19 patients can be separated from their families until it is safe for them to return. Transport to and from facilities, food, laundry services and waste disposal will be provided.

What are the 5 Golden Rules for good hygiene?

Hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, keeping a minimum distance of 1.5 metres, not touching your face, and staying home (and apart) when you are sick.

Why must you wear a mask when in isolation?

It is recommended to wear a mask in isolation to prevent the spread of droplets when coughing or sneezing and protecting other members of the household.

Caregivers of Covid-19 cases are also required to wear a mask when interacting with the ill person.

How will an ill person in isolation be managed by the Department of Health officials?

An important feature of isolation and quarantine is that health teams will follow up and check with you to monitor your wellbeing. Please make sure you are contactable and answer their questions truthfully.

It is important to alert these teams to any severe symptoms. If needed, you will be referred for further medical assistance.

Monique Johnstone, spokesperson for the provincial Department of Health, said they understand that this is a very stressful time for those who have to isolate but the department is doing whatever they can to help make this as easy as possible for people who have Covid-19.

“We want to remind our residents to be kind and compassionate during this time. Like anyone who falls ill, people who are infected with Covid-19 deserve our love and care.

“We must also remember that most people fully recover from Covid-19, and they should be welcomed back into our communities when they return,” said Ms Johnstone.

“The Western Cape Department of Health wants to thank every person for their hard work during this time. We know that if we all work together in this way, we will be successful in our efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19.

“We understand that separation from families is a difficult experience, but it is necessary to #StopTheSpread to loved ones and community.

“It is very important that the instructions about isolating yourself are followed,” she urged.