The Covid19 coronavirus has been spreading fear ever since it broke out in Wuhan, China, in December last year.
However, for South Africans it only became a reality on Thursday when Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed the first case has reached out shores.
In a statement shared by the Department of Health, the minister revealed a KwaZulu-Natal father tested positive for the deadly virus after returning home from a trip to Italy.
The minister said in the statement: “The patient is a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife. They were part of a group of 10 people and they arrived back in South Africa on 1 March, 2020.
” President Cyril Ramaphosa has since spoken up about SA’s first coronavirus case and he urged South Africans not to panic.
— Cyril Ramaphosa 🇿🇦 (@CyrilRamaphosa) March 5, 2020
Despite reassurance from the government that everything is under control, citizens have gone into full panic-mode.
Briefly decided to take an in-dept look at the virus, which has been spreading at a rapid rate across the world.
What is the Covid19 virus? The Covid19 virus belongs to a large family of Coronaviruses (CoV) that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.
The Covid19 virus is not the first coronavirus to infect and kill many people.
Two other infamous coronaviruses are the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
According to the World Health Organisation, a “novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.”
How does it spread?
WHO states on their website that coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.
Once a human has been infected, the person could spread it to other humans – as in the case of the Covid19 virus.
Thus far, more than 92 000 cases world-wide had been reported with more than 3 000 people already dead – most of whom are in China.
Symptoms There are several common signs that indicate a possible infection, many of which are also present in a common cold or flu.
These signs include: respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
In severe cases, the infection could lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Preventative measures to stay healthy There are several preventative measures one can take to lower risk of infection.
Wash your hands Washing one’s hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser destroys the viruses that may be on your hands.
The government posted a photo on Facebook, urging South Africans to regularly wash their hands:
Keep your distance from people who are sick
This goes without saying but limiting exposure to people who could be sick will help you stay healthy.
The WHO suggests at least one metre of distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Leave your face alone
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
When you touch a surface that has the virus on and then touch your face, the germs could enter your body through the eyes, nose or mouth and make you sick.
When to seek medical attention If you experience any of the symptoms related to the Covid19 virus, including a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Take a look at a video by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the coronavirus below: