For South Africans who have tested positive for COVID-19, or are living with someone who has a confirmed case of the virus, quarantine is absolutely necessary.
South Africa’s National Department of Health states that quarantine is the separation or restriction of movement and activities of people who are not ill, but are thought to have had exposure to the virus. Quarantine is an attempt stop the spread of the disease.
While most South Africans will be quarantined in their homes, others can be placed in community-based facilities for the quarantine period. This practice would extend to those who are believed to have been in contact with a COVID-19 infected person and can be extended to a wider community depending how many people were in contact with the infected person.
Those thought to have had contact with the virus are then required to isolate themselves to prevent a possible spread. While self-isolation is a voluntary act of a “home-based quarantine”, all South Africans are urged to do so during national lock down to contain the transmission of the disease.
The quarantine and self-isolation period is 14 days from the time a person was possibly exposed to the virus. South Africans can curb the spread by separating people who may have had contact with infected people from the rest of the community.
While in quarantine, people will be closely monitored for any signs of COVID-19 symptoms.
The virus, as defined by the Health Department, is spread from person to person through the air, when the infected person sneezes or coughs, or from touching surfaces the virus may have come into contact with.
COVID-19 is spread through small droplets emanating from the sick person when they cough, sneeze or exhale. Larger droplets will fall on to surfaces and objects like plastics and stainless steel and can be quickly transferred to an uninfected person when they touch these surfaces and then touch their eyes, mouth or nose. This is why it is so important to maintain a two-metre distance from people and to wash our hands after coming into contact with others as well as surfaces and objects that you have not sanitized yourself.
The virus can survive on surfaces and objects for 72 hours which is why it is essential to properly sanitize and clean your home as well as items brought in from outside.
COVID-19 causes fever, coughing and pneumonia and symptoms can range from extremely mild to very severe. Severe cases require hospitalization while people who exhibit mild symptoms will be monitored at their homes.
Once a person has recovered from the virus, treatment is no longer necessary.
If you are quarantining at home with mild symptoms and start to feel worse, talk to a healthcare provider immediately. Symptoms that may require you to go to hospital include shortness of breath, pain in your chest, severe cramps in the legs, or being unable to eat or drink.
By Chelsea Pieterse