The 10 Most Commonly Asked Questions About COVID-19 Answered

1. How do I prevent getting COVID-19?

You can lower your risk of contracting COVID-19 by taking the following preventative measures:

  • Practice social distancing by keeping at least 1.5 metres apart from others.
  • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water or use a sanitiser containing 70% alcohol.
  • Keep surfaces and high-touch zones clean with a disinfectant – make your own with 100 mls bleach and 800 mls water.
  • Decontaminate your shopping by wiping down plastic packets, containers, and bottles with a disinfectant.
  • Keep your hands off your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth completely with a mask whenever you are in public.
  • Boost your immune system with supplements like Vitamin C, D, and Zinc.
  • Keep healthy by eating nutritiously, being active and getting enough deep sleep (7 to 8 hours).
  • Keep stress at bay and focus on your mental health.
  • Keep your airways clean and your lungs strong with daily breathing exercises.
2. How do I boost my immune system?

To lower your risk of contracting COVID-19 it is important to maintain a healthy immune system. Making daily healthy lifestyle choices like:

  • Eating nutritious foods
  • Sleeping well
  • Eliminating stress
  • Exercise

Research has also shown that taking a daily dose of vitamin and mineral supplements can strengthen our immunity and protect us against viral illnesses. Some supplements are especially proving their worth during the COVID-19 health crisis by helping protect our immune systems as well as aiding in the healing process with people who have already contracted the illness:

Vitamin D protects against respiratory infections – a natural source of Vitamin D comes from the sun’s rays so don’t forget to go outside and soak up the warm South African sunshine especially during times of lockdown.

Vitamin C is famous for fighting colds and flu because it is a powerful antioxidant. This means it cleans our bodies of dead cells and free radicals both of which can make us sick. Taking a daily dose of Vitamin C is known to reduce the severity of upper-respiratory tract infections.

A lack of Zinc in our bodies can result in a dysfunctional immune system which can increase our risk of catching viral infections. Take a daily dose of around 30 to 40mg of Zinc to encourage healthy immune cell development.

3. Why do chronic conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, put you at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19?

COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system and especially the lungs. When our lungs do not function properly, the heart has to work extra hard to pump oxygenated blood through the body. If you suffer from chronic conditions which affect vital organs in your body, the extra stress on the heart can cause heart and kidney failure as well as aneurisms and a stroke.

This does not mean that if you get COVID-19 you will end up suffering from severe symptoms, but it does put you at a higher risk of developing complications. Keep healthy and strengthen your immune system.

Most importantly, take extra care to:

  • Practice social distancing
  • Wear a face mask in public
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water

Keep taking the medication that has been prescribed for your condition. Make sure you do not run out and miss a day or two. Get your prescriptions filled before you run out.

4. How do I self-isolate from the other members of the household if I live in a very small space?

Try to set up a separate sleep area for the patient on the opposite side of the room. The healthiest adult member of the household should become the caregiver if the patient is sick and requiring help.

If possible, all members of the home should always wear a mask as well as keep 1.5 metre distance from the patient  – only the caregiver can come into contact with the patient. It is even more vital that the patient wears a mask at all times – keep at least one back-up mask so that it allows for masks to be washed thoroughly every day.

Everyone living in the space should get into the habit of washing their hands frequently and well (20 seconds) with soap and water or sanitizer. They should regularly wipe down high-touch surfaces with a cloth and disinfectant as well as wash the patient’s clothes, towels and linen in hot water separately from the rest of the household.

Open windows and doors to air the space if weather permits it. Make sure the patient has their own towel, linen, crockery, cutlery and masks.

5. Do masks really work?

There have been contradicting stories about whether masks effectively protect us from contracting COVID-19 or not. The World Health Organisation advises us that wearing a mask may not offer us complete protection from COVID-19. However, masks may help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 by stopping the spread of respiratory droplets when people talk, sneeze or cough.

When we all wear masks when we are out in public places, especially where it is difficult to practice social distancing, it makes it harder for the virus to travel from one person to another.

Wearing a mask also prevents us from touching our faces, which is one of the most common ways to become infected. A person may have the virus without experiencing symptoms and could be spreading it without knowing it. By wearing a mask, the spread of the viral droplets will be limited.

6. Are there treatments for COVID-19?

Although scientists and medical experts are working extremely hard to find a vaccine to prevent us from getting COVID-19 and / or a treatment to cure it, unfortunately they have not discovered anything yet.

The best prevention currently is to practice social distancing, hand washing and wearing a face mask. The best treatment currently is plenty of fluids, lots of rest and religiously take Zinc, and Vitamin C and D. Your doctor may recommend other medicines to help ease the symptoms.

7. What if I test positive for COVID-19?

If you or a family member tests positive for COVID-19, you must immediately isolate yourself in your own home. If you have mild to moderate symptoms, treat it like a common but extremely contagious flu. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, eat foods that will help strengthen you and take vitamins to boost your immunity. Even if you feel better after just 3 days, you must still self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days.

Keep in touch with your doctor if you develop the following 3 symptoms:

  1. A fever that does not go away
  2. Chest pains when you cough
  3. Shortness of breath

You could also experience other symptoms like chills, muscle pain, headaches, a sore throat or a loss of taste or smell. Your doctor will be able to advise you on whether you need to go to hospital. If it is advised, call the emergency unit of the hospital ahead of time and let them know you want to be admitted for severe COVID-19 symptoms. The hospital will prepare for your arrival.

8. What if I suspect I have symptoms of COVID-19?

If you think you have COVID-19 because you have developed flu-like symptoms – sore throat, fever, aches and pains, dry cough, or tiredness – call your doctor and isolate yourself immediately from the rest of the household. Your doctor will provide you with the best advice on what to do. It is important not to panic and to remain calm.

9. What should I be decontaminating at home?

Make a disinfectant by mixing 100 mls of bleach to 800 mls of water. Use this to clean the surfaces and high-touch areas in the home. These include:

  • All counter tops
  • Door and window handles
  • Tap handles
  • Toilet-flushing handle
  • High-touch areas on kitchen appliances like fridge, microwave, kettle and oven
  • Light switches
  • Remote controls
  • Frequently used keys
  • Mobile phones, keyboards and other devices
  • Anything which has been brought into your home from the outside like groceries, toiletries, and household products

Use a clean cloth every time you sanitise.

10. During COVID-19, are Lenmed hospitals admitting patients for other medical treatments?

During level 5 of lockdown, we were only admitting emergency cases into our hospitals but since the ease of lockdown our doctors are consulting and will guide you to the best course of treatment. Contact a Lenmed hospital close to you to find out about the easing of lockdown protocols and procedures.