Coronavirus FAQ’s

Coronavirus FAQ’s

5 March 2024


  1. Key facts
  • There is an outbreak of a novel coronavirus (termed “2019-nCoV”) which originated in China.
  • The origin of the current strain is thought to be from animals.
  • The virus is contagious between people.
  • Symptoms can include a cold or organ failure in some severe cases.
  • Those with vulnerable immune systems are at higher risk.
  1. Background

On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) China country office reported a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been confirmed as the causative virus of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). As at 3 April 2020, there was over one million cases reported globally and 50 000 deaths. 

  1. Here in South Africa

The first case of Coronavirus in South Africa was confirmed on Thursday 5 March 2020. The patient had returned from a trip to Italy and, together with his doctor and the doctor’s family, were placed under quarantine upon diagnosis. There are now over 1 400 confirmed cases and five deaths.

  1. Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe respiratory illness
  • Multiple organ failure

People with underlying medical conditions may experience worse symptoms and even death.

  1. Prevention

The NICD encourages the public to continue practising hand hygiene and cough etiquette, and adhering to the following:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
  • Consider getting a hand sanitizer (minimum alcohol content 70%) for when you’re out and about, or have to use biometric access systems. If your hands are dirty or soiled, rather wash with soap and water.
  • Don’t visit markets where live animals are sold.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, or suffering from acute respiratory infections.
  • Stay at least two metres away from those coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth with a paper tissue or handkerchief or the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of tissues immediately and wash hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If possible, postpone any unnecessary international or local travel.
  • Avoid going to hospitals unnecessarily. Where possible, delay non-emergency/elective procedures.
  • Travellers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing and wash hands).
  • Health practitioners should provide travellers with information to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections, via travel health clinics, travel agencies, conveyance operators and at points of entry. Travellers should self-report if they feel ill.
  1. Clinical significance 

How is this family of viruses transmitted?

  • Respiratory droplets that are airborne
  • Shared objects such as clothes, utensils and furniture that carry infection
  • Faecal-oral contact


Covid-19 online resource and news portal:

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD):

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