Frequently Asked Questions

We have some frequently asked questions. We hope these will answer any questions you may have.

Question: COVID-19 Lockdown: How can I prevent being infected with the Coronavirus?

Answer: 

 

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick (coughing, sneezing, and other flu-like symptoms). Maintain a distance of at least 1m apart from others while in public.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Watch this video from the World Health Organisation on the proper handwashing techniques.  If you cannot access soap and water at that moment, carry a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  3. To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
  4. Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc. to prevent infection. These are potential entry points for the virus.
  5. Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs. Practice routine cleaning of items and surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, credit cards, and cell phones).
  6. Another surface we tend to forget about is the bin. These are breeding grounds for germs so regularly disinfecting trash cans (especially the ones we leave outside on refuse removal days) should be high up on the list of safety measures to prevent infection.  
  7. Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
  8. Practice proper cough etiquette. This means staying a safe distance from others, covering your mouth with your sleeve or a disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing; safely dispose of tissues 
  9. When going to the shops, bring linen or mesh produce bags from home. These can be washed and reused repeatedly.
  10. If you have to use the store's baskets, carts and bags, keep alcohol-based sanitary wipes or hand sanitizer with you to wipe down surfaces. Remember to sanitise your hands before you go home, and thoroughly wash them with soap and water as soon as you arrive (before touching anything or anyone).
  11. Do card payments. Banknotes and coins are frequently touched items and known breeding grounds for germs. So, when going out to buy the essentials, opt for card payments instead of cash. Remember to clean your cards after every use, though.
  12. When returning from the shops: Be sure to change clothes and either leave your shoes outside or wipe them down with hygiene wipes. Also, thoroughly wipe down groceries with sanitizing wipes before storing, and wash your hands afterwards.
  13. Lastly, here's something you can do all year round to boost your immune system: maintain a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and avoid highly processed foods that are loaded with sugar and trans fats. While you won't find a 'magical immune booster' that works overnight, vitamins A, B6, B9, B12, C, D, E, as well as Iron, Zinc, and Selenium will lead you in the right direction. These vitamins are present in certain foods (all of which qualify as essential during the lockdown), there are supplements available in tablet form. 

NOTE: Taking additional vitamins is not necessary unless you have been diagnosed by your doctor with a specific nutrient deficiency 

Some of these precautionary measures may seem excessive but as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow dramatically - not only in SA but all around the world - it’s better to be safe than sorry. You’re not only protecting yourself but those around you too.

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Question: Covid-19 Lockdown - What counts as an essential service?

Note: Businesses that render any of the above-mentioned essential services must contact the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) for approval to trade during the national lockdown. From there, businesses owners must apply on the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission’s Bizportal website in order to obtain a certificate allowing them to continue trading.

In terms of travel, individuals involved in the execution of essential services are exempt from the restrictions to movement and travel

Answer: 

 

As stated on the government's official website, the following categories of service are considered essential by the South African Government during the 21-day lockdown:

  • Medical health services (physical and mental), laboratory and medical services, and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases
  • Disaster management, firefighting and emergency services personnel.
  • Any Financial services that are necessary to maintain the functioning of the banking and payments environment, including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), as well as insurance and medical aid administration.
  • The production and sale of essential goods
  • Maintenance of Grocery stores (including spaza shops)
  • The supply and maintenance of electricity, water, gas, and fuel production.
  •  Essential government services as determined by the Head of National or Provincial departments in accordance with the guidance by the Department of Public Service and Administration's (DPSA), including those providing social grant payments.
  • Applications for, and the collection of Birth and death certificates and replacement ID documents
  • Essential municipal services (services that, if not continuously performed, would endanger citizens). For example the maintenance and operation of water and sewage systems, the removal and disposal of medical waste, all leaning, sanitation, sewerage, and refuse removal services.
  • The provision of care services and social relief of distress provided to elderly people, children, those who are mentally ill, disabled, and those who are otherwise of poor health. 
  • Wildlife management including anti-poaching, animal care, and veterinary services
  • Public print and broadcast infrastructure and services
  • The production and sale of chemicals, hygiene products, and pharmaceuticals for the medical or retail sector
  • All services that aid the functioning of courts, judicial officers, the Master of the High Court, Sheriffs and legal practitioners required for those services
  • Essential SARS services 
  • Police, peace officers, traffic officers, military medical personnel and soldiers, correctional services officials, and traffic management services
  • Postal services and courier services related to the transport of medical products
  • Private security services, Air-Traffic Navigation, Civil Aviation Authority, Cargo Shipping and dockyard services
  • The procurement and refinery of Gold and coal 
  • Any spaces used to accommodate those who are in quarantine, isolation, and lockdown, as well as those rendering essential services.
  • All production, manufacturing, supply, logistics, transport, delivery, maintenance and repair services that are crucial to the provision of essential services - including components and equipment needed.
  • Transport services for those rendering essential services and goods, as well as the transportation of patients.
  • All services provided by the Executive, Members of Parliament, Members of the Provincial Legislature, Members of Local Councils, the Judiciary, traditional leaders and National office bearers of Political parties represented in Parliament
  • Those involved in the South African Human Rights Commission, Gender Commission, and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, as well as the Public Protector
  • The transport and logistics of essential goods to neighbouring countries
  • Vehicle recovery services
  • All call centres necessary to provide health, safety, social support, government and financial services
  • All agricultural harvesting and storage activities deemed vital to prevent the waste perishable foods such as vegetables etc.
  • The implementation of payroll systems to ensure timeous payments to workers (if prior arrangements were not made)
  • Critical maintenance services needed to ensure uninterrupted operations after the lockdown provided these services cannot be delayed for more than 21 days. 

 

   Important Contact Numbers -

 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme

 National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD): 0800 029 999

South African national or provincial hotline

 Should you or someone you know begin to show symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, please contact one of the following numbers for advice on what to do next.

  • SA National Hotline: 0800 029 999 
  • SA Provincial hotline: 021 928 4102 

 

 

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Question: Covid-19 Lockdown - What counts as an essential product?

NOTE: When you do go out to buy the essentials, remember that South Africa's retail stores can only allow a maximum of fifty people in a store at a time. Once inside, customers must remain at least one metre apart from other shoppers at all times. 

Answer: 

The following products are classified as essential and will therefore still be available for purchase -

Consumables

  • Any food product (including non-alcoholic beverages) - this includes health foods for those with dietary restrictions, as well as snacks such as chips, chocolate etc.
  • Pet and livestock supplies
  • The chemicals, packaging and additional products used to produce food, cleaning, and hygiene Products
  • Toilet paper, sanitary pads, sanitary tampons, condoms
  • Hand sanitiser, disinfectants, soap, Surgical alcohol for wound care, household cleaning products, and personal safety equipment such as protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or gear designed to protect the wearer's body from injury or infection. 
  • Any chemicals, packaging and additional products used in the production of any of the products listed above.
  • Products needed to care for infants and toddlers 
  • Personal toiletries such as shampoo, body wash, deodorants, and toothpaste.

Medical Supplies:

  • Any medical and hospital supplies, equipment and personal protective equipment needed to render treatment.
  • The chemicals, packaging and products used to produce any of the above.

Other Essentials:

  • Fuel, coal and gas. 
  • Basic goods such as airtime and electricity

 However...

The following items will NOT be available for purchase during this time:

  • Clothing
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Fast-food (Restaurants will also be closed) 

 Important Contact Numbers -

This is a stressful time for everyone and uncertainty just makes things worse, so if you have any concerns or questions relating to COVID-19, please contact the Western Cape Department of Health.  All support lines are operational 24/7.

Or, for more information on the Covid-19 pandemic, contact the Coronavirus Disease Hotline for assistance.

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Question: Covid-19 Lockdown – What is meant by "stay at home"?

During his announcement on Monday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a nationwide lockdown in an attempt to limit the further spread of the Coronavirus in the country. One of the restrictions is that South Africans (excluding those providing essential services) are required to stay at home until the 16th of April 2020, except under special circumstances. What exactly is meant by this?

Answer: 

Being told to “Stay at home” may seem self-explanatory but it is quite a vague command. It invites confusion which in turn leads to questions such as “Well, when am I allowed to leave the property?”, “What if I need something from the store?”, “Can I go see a movie but sit far away from everyone else?”, “Why can’t I take my dog for a walk? it’s not like I will walk in a group”, and “What if I run out of cigarettes?”.

To clarify, here’s what Police Minister Bheki Cele meant when he told the nation to “stay at home”.

 Starting tomorrow - the 27th of March - the following places will be off-limits to the public for 21 days:

  • Public Parks
  • Flea markets
  • Public swimming pools
  • Beaches
  • Nightclubs
  • Casinos
  • Lodges
  • Guest houses
  • Hotels
  • Private and public game reserves
  • Holiday resorts
  • Shopping malls (excluding grocery store and pharmacies at the stores)
  • Cinemas
  • Taverns
  • Bars

This means that -

  1. Gatherings will be banned, except for funerals, which must be attended by no more than 50 people.
  2. Movement between provinces, metros and district areas are also banned and roadblocks will be conducted on community, provincial and national roads to implement this.
  3. Despite what Health Minister Zweli Mkhize's said earlier on Wednesday, dog-walking and jogging are strictly prohibited during the lockdown period.
  4. Cross-border trips are prohibited during this period, with the exception of the transportation of essential goods and cargo.
  5. Citizens may only leave the house when purchasing essential goods such as groceries, medicine or fuel, when providing an essential service, collecting a social grant, or seeking emergency medical treatment.
  6. Any place normally open to the public where religious, cultural, sporting, entertainment, recreational, organisational or similar activities may take place will be closed.
  7. Individuals residing in a secure complex are allowed to walk around the property unaccompanied, but the use of shared spaces such as the swimming pool is prohibited.
  8. Those living in private houses with a garden are allowed to walk around, provided they stay within the property limits. 

 Note that if you leave your residence for reasons not listed above, you will be subject to a fine and a possible jail sentence of up to 6 months for breaching the lockdown regulations.

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Question: What is the difference between coronavirus and the common cold?

How can I tell if I have the coronavirus or just the common cold?

Answer: 

Coronavirus symptoms are similar to flu symptoms, these include: fever, coughing, fatigue and body aches. These symptoms tend to affect the whole body, which tends to lead to severe health implications such as:

  • Pneumonia
  • Bacterial infections

These are the types of symptoms which would require the person infected to be hospitalized, unlike the symptoms of a common cold cold.

The symptoms of a common cold are:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Itchy eyes

Cold symptoms tend to clear up by themselves if they are well handled, unlike the coronavirus symptoms which tend to get worse over time.

Pay attention to your symptoms and contact the hotline if you suspect you might have the coronavirus. 

Coronavirus Hotline Number: 0800 029 999, available from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

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