Last night the President of The Republic of South Africa addressed the nation about the cases of Coronavirus in South Africa.
To be honest, the whole coronavirus pandemic didn’t feel real until I watched President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address then I started panicking. We live in a country where people don’t have access to water, yet the government keeps saying we should wash our hands.
Most people travel by public transport, we pass money around in taxis and trains are always packed. People cannot afford to not go to work. The government hasn’t done a good job of educating people about the virus.
We should have ads in all official languages on TV, Radio, and newspapers. When we land at the airport, they should be doing more than just checking your temperature.
The virus has spread to more than 100 countries and every continent except for Antarctica.
What is Coronavirus
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans. Unlike SARS or MERS however, The 2019 Coronavirus has reportedly caused widespread infection at a faster rate.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.
Where does the Coronavirus originate from?
The spread of the Coronavirus first began in Wuhan, China, the capital of Hubei Province and one of the largest cities in China. It was originally traced to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan and initially believed to be transmitted from animals to humans.
Coronavirus in South Africa Facts
At the moment (16 March 2020) there are 61 cases of Coronavirus in South Africa, here’s what we know so far…
- 31 December 2019: China alerted WHO to several cases of unusual pneumonia in Wuhan.
- 11 January 2020: China announced its first death from the virus, a 61-year-old man who had purchased goods from the seafood market.
- 2 February 2020: The first death outside China, of a Chinese man from Wuhan, was reported in the Philippines.
- 14 February 2020: Egypt reports the first Coronavirus case in Africa and France reported Europe’s first death from the virus.
- 5 March 2020: The first case of Coronavirus in South Africa is announced.
- The government announced it would be expatriating desperate South African students from Wuhan, China
- 11 March 2020: COVID-19 declared a pandemic by WHO.
- 14 March 2020: 114 South African citizens who live in Wuhan, China arrived home and they are currently in quarantine.
- 15 March 2020: The President declares a state of emergency and announces a travel ban on the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, South Korea, Germany, Italy, Iran, and China.
- 18 March 2020: Schools close for 4 weeks and travel ban comes into effect.
Visiting South Africa? Read this first
- Is South Africa safe for solo female travelers?
- Things to know before visiting South Africa for the first time
- Tips for driving in South Africa
- Vaccinations for South Africa Travel
How to protect myself from Coronovirus in South Africa
- Practice positivity and don’t instill fear or panic.
- Wash your hands with soap often.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people.
- Wear a facemask only if you are sick and coughing or sneezing to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses to others.
- If you’re traveling with public transport wear disposable gloves.
- Stay home if you’re sick.
- Drink lots of water and stay hydrated.
- Avoid gatherings with a lot of people.
- Sneeze and cough into your elbow.
All these tips when used together will help “flatten the curve”, or reduce the spread of the virus, and support our global health care centers which are already stressed.
If you have coronavirus symptoms, contact the South African Department of Health.
Where to test for Coronavirus in South Africa
It’s highly advisable to contact the Coronavirus in South Africa Hotline: 0800 029 999 or text via Whatsapp: 0600 123 456. The Department of Health will guide you and send someone to your home. They will come to your house and collect a swab from you and test for the virus.
Going to the doctor is not advisable because:
- You will be in contact with many people
- Some hospitals don’t have Coronavirus test kits.
Keynotes from the President’s speech about Coronavirus in South Africa
President Rampahosa addressed the nation at around 7:28 pm on Sunday, 15 March 2020. He san the following about the South Africa Coronavirus plan:
- We are imposing a travel ban on foreign nationals from high-risk countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, and China as of 18 March 2020.
- We have canceled visas to visitors from those countries from today and previously granted visas are hereby revoked.
- South African citizens are advised to refrain from all forms of travel to or through the European Union, United States, United Kingdom and other identified high-risk countries such as China, Iran, and South Korea.
- Any foreign national who has visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days will be denied a visa.
- Travelers from medium-risk countries – such as Portugal, Hong Kong, and Singapore – will be required to undergo high-intensity screening.
- South Africa has 72 ports of entry in the country which are land, sea, and airports. Of the 53 land ports, 35 will be shut down with effect from Monday 16 March. 2 of the 8 seaports will be closed for passengers and crew changes.
- All travelers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since mid-February will be required to present themselves for testing.
- South African citizens returning from high-risk countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation or quarantine on return to South Africa.
- Effective immediately, all non-essential travel for all spheres of government outside of the Republic is prohibited.
- The government further discourages all non-essential domestic travel, particularly by air, rail, taxis, and bus.
- Gatherings of more than 100 people will be prohibited.
- Visits to all correctional centers are suspended for 30 days with immediate effect.
- Schools will be closed from Wednesday, 18 March, and will remain closed until 14 April 2020. To compensate, the mid-year school holidays will be shortened by a week.
* Government will continue to regularly issue travel alerts referring to specific cities, countries or regions as the situation evolves based on the risk level.
Coronavirus in South Africa FAQ
I am a South African abroad, can I travel home after 18 March?
Yes, you can travel to South Africa right now. The travel ban only affects citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, South Korea, Germany, Italy, Iran, and China.
What about domestic travel? Are there restrictions? Is it safe?
President Cyril Ramaphosa advised South Africans to only travel if necessary
Should I cancel my South Africa Travel Plans?
One of the most common questions right now is: should I cancel my trip or any international travel plans because of Coronavirus in South Africa?
The answer is Yes!
You might get the virus and recover, you might not even get it but you need to take people around you into consideration. Some people are old and sick. Some people don’t have access to proper healthcare.
Many companies within the travel industry, from airlines to hotels and even cruise lines, have issued change and cancellation fee waivers, trip credits and more to reassure and incentivize worried travelers.
The safest option is to limit travel until the world has a better understanding of the virus. This is not the time for unnecessary trips!
If you do choose to travel it’s important to make sure your travel insurance covers coronavirus.
Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.
Why I came back to South Africa
I’ve been living in Bali for the past 7 months and recently came home to renew my passport but due to the outbreak, I decided to stay longer.
For those who do choose to travel, think about what it would be like to get sick without your support system, away from home.
Still unsure about whether you should travel? Check out these FAQs on the CDC website that might help you more.
How to #ExplorefromHome
Visit a Museum
Google Arts & Culture is an online platform through which the public can access high-resolution images of artworks housed in the initiative’s partner museums.
All you need to do is download the app on your phone and start browsing for FREE! This is a great way to keep busy during the Coronavirus in South Africa outbreak.
Connect with loved ones
Use the phone more, email, text and use social media to connect with friends and family. Talk “face to face” with friends and loved ones using Skype or FaceTime.
Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking; consider keeping a journal where you write down things you are grateful for or that are going well.
Netflix and Sleep
There are many amazing shows to watch on Netflix when in Quarantine. Some of my favorites are Love is Blind and Dynasty!
Join or Start a Virtual Book Club
Book clubs are the perfect way to keep reading and talking about what you’re reading and while making friends with other readers. And you don’t even have to leave your house to join one.
I will continue to update this post with the most recent information on Coronavirus in South Africa. If you have any questions or information to add please let me know in the comments below.