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General FAQs

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

The virus is very susceptible to common anti-bacterial cleaning agents such as bleach, and alcohol-based cleaners (60% volume). Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Maintain at least 1 metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands.

Self-isolation is a way to keep yourself from possibly infecting others if you think you might be infected. It involves limiting contact with public places, relatives, friends, colleagues, and public transport.

The symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or fever. However, these are also symptoms of the flu. The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) recommends that you should only get tested if you display symptoms plus:

Been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 person;
Travelled to a high risk country;
Worked in or been to a healthcare facility treating people with Covid-19;
Have a severe case of pneumonia with an unknown cause.

However, one should consult your medical practitioner immediately if you display symptoms.

If you think you might have contracted the virus, you can call the NICD helpline (0800 029 999) and you will be advised on possible testing facilities. However, testing is not routinely done unless testing is indicated by a health professional therefore one would need to be assessed by your medical practitioner in order to qualify for testing.

Anyone who tests positive will immediately be notified and put into isolation at home or at a facility designated to manage the outbreak. You will then remain in isolation until repeat testing shows you no longer have the virus.

Public sector testing is free of charge. Private laboratories such as Lancet, Ampath and Pathcare can also test for SARS-CoV-2. Enquiry should be with the respective laboratory for their costing of the test. If going via a private lab, it is advisable to check with your medical aid to ascertain if they will cover the costs for the test.

There is no specific treatment available for SARS-CoV-2. Treatment is supportive (e.g. providing oxygen for patients with shortness of breath or managing a fever). Antibiotics do not treat viral infections. However, antibiotics may be required if a secondary bacterial infection develops. Currently there is a vaccine being developed.

The following hospitals have also been identified as centres for isolation and treatment of people infected with Coronavirus:

Polokwane Hospital in Limpopo;
Rob Ferreira Hospital in Mpumalanga;
Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, Steve Biko Hospital and Tembisa Hospitals in Gauteng;
Grace Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal;
Klerksdorp Hospital in the North West;
Kimberly Hospital in the Northern Cape;
Pelonomi Hospital in the Free State;
Livingstone Hospital in the Eastern Cape; and
Tygerberg Hospital in the Western Cape.

Anyone who is sick or displaying symptoms should not go to school or work. If you have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, you should self-isolate for 14 days from the date of close contact. If you are concerned, contact your medical practitioner for further advice.

Protocols have been developed and distributed to provinces and districts in the country. However, it is especially important to encourage children and staff to take every day preventative actions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. This includes staying at home when sick, washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol based hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol and cleaning frequently touched surfaces. If children do become ill, they should be strictly isolated at home. In situations where the child or staff member becomes sick at school, they should be separated from healthy students and staff until sick students and staff can be sent home.

The Coronaviruses is spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always rinse the food with water and wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety.

It is possible that one may touch the SARS-CoV-2 virus while handling packages contaminated by the virus however, one may only contract the virus or be affected by it when the virus comes into contact with your mucosal membranes (mouth, tongue or nose) thus entering your body. This is not the main means of transmission. Inhaling respiratory droplets is the main way the virus spreads.

The virus does not survive well on surfaces, therefore there is a lower risk of it spreading from products or packages that are shipped or delivered over a period of time.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus does not survive well in warmer climates. It is therefore expected to thrive in the colder winter seasons.

Those at higher risk of contracting the virus include the elderly and individuals with chronic conditions or a compromised immune system. Chronic conditions include high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and lung disease amongst others.

If you are at higher risk of getting the virus, you should take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others. When you go out, try to avoid unnecessary contact, non-essential travel and exposure to others who are sick. Wash your hands often, avoid crowds and if there is an outbreak in your community, consider staying home and limiting contact to essential people.

No. According to the WHO, there is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or could spread the virus that causes COVID-19. However, it is good practice to wash your hands after being around animals.

The declaration allows governments to activate preparedness plans and undertake emergency procedures to protect the public, such as travel and trade restrictions.

Generally, the WHO will declare a pandemic when there is sustained community outbreaks on different continents.

The WHO last declared in 2009 for the H1N1 flu.

An outbreak is a sudden rise in cases of a disease in a particular place. An epidemic is a large outbreak. A pandemic means a global epidemic.

A pandemic has nothing to do with how serious an illness is. It just means a disease is spreading widely and at an alarming rate.

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

Self-monitor for any symptom onset such as fever, cough, sore throat or difficulty breathing. If any should arise, seek medical attention. Otherwise practice adequate hygiene and be aware of possible asymptomatic transmission.

Be aware of fake news reporting, ensuring credible resources from the WHO, CDC or NICD are only shared. Speak out against negative behaviours and negative social media statements stereotyping various individuals.

Ensure personal hygiene and good health practices such as cough and sneeze etiquette.

Get the recent flu vaccine to ensure your immune system is at optimal capacity.

Express your appreciation to healthcare workers who are on the frontline taking care of patients and helping make sure this disease does not spread further.

The Department of Water and Sanitation will provide emergency water in rural areas, informal settlements and public areas.

The Department will increase the provision of water and sanitation in high-density public areas, informal settlements and rural areas.

The Department will also ensure that rural areas and informal settlements are provided with water tanks and standpipes, to increase access to water for residents.

Water tanks and sanitizers will also be provided in public spaces including taxi ranks, train and bus stations, and other areas where people congregate.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will be implementing safety and precautionary measures to combat Covid-19 epidemic as per national government directive by the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Sunday March 15, 2020. A follow-up briefing was held by various Department’s Ministers, including the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Dr Blade Nzimande outlining the impact, holistic measures and approach in support of the national plan. NSFAS has developed preventative measures to lower the risk of spreading the virus.

NSFAS is cognisant of the fact that students may be concerned that the current pandemic will affect the allocation of their funding. We can firmly confirm that NSFAS is implementing measures to ensure that payments and processing of applications is not affected. We will continue to focus on ensuring business continuity and adequate support for our stakeholders who require assistance during this time.

As from Tuesday 17 March 2020 NSFAS staff members will be segmented into priority groups to lower human interaction at the NSFAS Wynberg (Cape Town) Head office, 50% of staff members will be required to report to the office and limit contact amongst each other. Although the NSFAS Contact Centre will be reducing the number of staff members the interaction on alternative platforms will be greatly strengthened.

Clients, students and applicants are encouraged to engage NSFAS on the online platforms prior to attempt to call the Contact Centre. The above strategy enables the organisation to continue the allocation of funding, protect staff members and their families, as well as the students.

The following alternative communication channels will be available from 08h30 to 17h00, Monday to Friday.

NSFAS Connect via MyNSFAS account
Email: info@nsfas.org.za
Facebook: National Student Financial Aid Scheme
Twitter: MyNSFAS
Instagram: MyNSFAS

For the foreseeable future, NSFAS will also limit local travel for all NSFAS employees. Government and business stakeholders will preferably be contacted using alternative channels of engagement as and when required. We will continue to communicate with the public through our online platforms to provide the latest funding progress updates.

In accordance with the pronouncement by the President on 15 March 2020, schools will be closed from 18 March 2020.

We are going to lose 10 school days as a result of the school closures.

To compensate for lost days the June holidays will be cut short by a week. Once opened schools will be encouraged to extend tuition hours.

This directive is binding on all schools; public ordinary schools, independent schools and private.

A number of steps are being taken to ensure that education is not compromised.

Each province, district, circuit and school must have a practical and comprehensive catch-up plan to be implemented.

Schools have been urged to give learners work they can do at home with the supervision of parents.

Schools are also encouraged to give learners workbooks and worksheets to be used to keep learners active on curriculum based initiatives.

Parents must play their part in the education of their children.

The school enrichment programmes will also be affected by the arrangements. The Department of Basic Education will this week provide guidelines on how the school enrichment programmes are going to be managed because we want to ensure that those in matric in particular are not disadvantaged.

All Social Development, NDA offices and SASSA pay points remain operational during this period.

All facilities are adhering to Occupation Health and Safety guidelines and to ensure that basic protective measures against the virus.

In line with President Ramaphosa’s declaration, the Disaster Relief Fund has been activated to provide immediate assistance to affected individuals and families. An amount of R96 million is available from the Fund.

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) is exploring various options to ensure that pay points, including the South African Post Office (SAPO), implement precautionary measures. This will assist in minimizing and mitigating the spread of the virus as these facilities become overcrowded during pay days.

One of the proposals SASSA is currently considering is the staggering of payment dates to avoid gathering of large numbers of people at South African Post Offices. This is in line with the disaster management plan regulations.

All social service professionals will provide psychosocial care and support services to affected individual and their families.

This includes trauma counselling, integration and re-unification of persons who have been isolated/quarantined to mitigate stigmatisation.
Hide How are Early Childhood Development Centres (ECD) affected?

ECD centres will close on 18 March 2020. Parents/caregivers are advised to make alternative care arrangements during this period.

There is a suspension, until further notice, of all external visits to Child and Youth Care Centres, drug rehabilitation and treatment centres, shelters and old age centres

These are critical stakeholders in the provision of social services. They must continue playing their part by disseminating correct information to members of the public.

COVID-19 UIF PROCESS

• Any UIF contributing business facing distress, on lockdown and unable to pay salaries due to lockdown can apply.
• Companies are encouraged to apply on behalf of their employees using the e-mail address (COVID19ters@labour.gov.za)
• Automatic reply with all the required documents and step by step on the process to follow.
• Completed applications and documents must be submitted to Covid19UIF@labour.gov.za
• Hotline number: (012) 337 1997

Who has to apply for the Covid19 Relief Benefit?
• Employers who are unable to pay salaries of their employees during the lock down period can apply for the Relief Benefit.

How do I apply?
• The employer should send an email to Covid19ters@labour.gov.za

What is the deadline for the submission of applications?
• The Covid19ters Benefit is applicable for the lock down period, no applications will be entertained once the lock down is lifted.

Do employers who are not registered with UIF qualify for the Relief Benefit?
• No, an employer need to be registered with UIF to qualify for the Benefit.
• Companies who registered after the 15 March 2020 may not be eligible for the Benefit

No, informal businesses won’t qualify for this benefit, instead they must check with the Department of Small Business for support they offer.

Yes, your employer can apply for the Covid 19 TERS Benefit provided they have been contributing to the UIF.

No, freelancers and commission workers do not qualify, as they are not covered under the Unemployment Insurance Amendment Act.

Turnaround time to process the application is 10 days with complete documents (MOA, verifications, etc.)

The calculation of payment is based/informed by the last remuneration capped to the current ceiling of R 17 712.

The benefit amount (IRR) is then determined in line with the current sliding scale which ranges between 38% to 60%.

The PRINCIPLE is the “higher the remuneration the lower the replacement rate” ie., where the remuneration is R 20 000 the calculation will be based as if the worker received R 17 712 (ceiling).

Since this is the highest, the replacement rate will be 38%, which will be (38% of R 17 712 = (R 221.28 per day) = R 6 638.40 for 30 days or R 6 859.68 for 31 days).

UIF will take into consideration the current salary of the employee to determine the Income Replacement Rate applicable

When an employer submits a claim with a list of his workers, we will check it against our database. If we find workers who are not registered, the application will be returned back to the employers to provide to provide an explanation.

NO, the COVID19TERS will not affect any credits because it’s a special benefit.

Yes, you will be able to claim for the Unemployment Benefit since it is de-linked to the other benefit structure.

Given the administrative burden that comes with this disaster it will be impossible for UIF to process millions of applications.

UIF has started negotiations with partners such as Banks, Bargaining Councils, and other insurance companies to assist with payments of claims so that we ease the burden and fast-track the payments.

Where the Fund has agreements with Bargaining Councils or Employer Associations, the funds will be transferred to the Bargaining Council or Employer Association. Thereafter, the Bargaining Council or Employer Association will transfer to the individual companies to pay their employees.

Where the Fund has an agreement directly with the company, funds will be transferred to the company to pay the employees.

There are instances where an agreement with a company will be that the funds be paid directly into the employee’s account.

No, the MOU applies to companies that have more than 10 employees

Yes, if the application was approved prior to the 16 April 2020 the benefits payments will still be made.

The benefit is applicable for the lock down period.

No, labour centres are closed, however all UIF services will be available online.
• A Guide for electronic applications is available at www.Labour.gov.za
• An SMS will be sent to beneficiaries who have been receiving benefits payments to confirm whether their banking details are still the same as when they applied and that they’re still unemployed.

The employer has the right to let you stay at home for the period of the lock down, but they need to assist employees to apply for the Covid 19 TERS Relief Benefit so that employees do not lose income.

Beneficiaries who have been receiving benefits payment prior the lock down will continue receiving them, provided the benefits have not been exhausted.

UIF will send these beneficiaries SMSes requesting them to confirm their baking details and if they are still unemployed.

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NICD COVID-19 FAQs INFORMATION PORTAL
NICD General Vaccine Information

Additional Links & Information

o International
o Intraprovincial

Do students from other countries have to undergo weekly Covid-19 tests in line with (the level 1) regulations?

Daily commuters from neighbouring countries who attend or teach at a school in the Republic, as well as children below the age of five years, are exempted from the provisions of subparagraph (3)(b) but must comply with the re-entry requirements set out by the Department of Home Affairs.


With reference to persons visiting accepted overseas destinations on holiday but cannot access Covid-19 testing overseas, how are the specified persons accommodated upon their return? 

Such persons would need to quarantine at a designated facility for 10 days or alternatively do a Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test immediately upon entry into the country, once the results are available such person is able to apply for early release from quarantine, the period for this is process can be between 24 to 72 hours.

Under South Africa’s level 1 lockdown rules, travellers will be screened for any Covid-19 symptoms and will also be screened for contact with people who have been in contact with others who could have had Covid-19.

Travellers will also need to provide proof of accommodation addresses in case they need to self-isolate. International travel around the world has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Those who are found to have Covid-19 after entering the country will be required to isolate for 10 days at their own cost.


Do people visiting accepted overseas destinations on holiday have to apply for self-quarantine before their return? 

No, persons visiting accepted overseas destinations do not need to apply for self-quarantine before their return as requirements and procedures for level one have changed aligning with easing of lockdown restrictions. Persons returning into the country are required to produce negative PCR tests which are not older than 72 hours from date of travel.

The Department of Home Affairs published its updated list of high-risk countries on 19 October.

Leisure travellers from high-risk countries will not be permitted. The exception will be business travellers with scarce and critical skills including diplomats, repatriated persons, investors and people participating in professional sporting and, events will undergo the same health protocol screenings.

The previous list of high-risk destination had 60 countries. The latest update carries only 22.

The new list as follows:

  • Argentina
  • Bangladesh
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Russia
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • USA

Visit https://www.gov.za/coronavirus/guidelines for additional information and FAQ documents