In March 2020 the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a global pandemic. Since then, the coronavirus has swept the globe, infecting millions of people. With increasing cases of the disease in South Africa, concerns continue to grow. For statistics on COVID-19 spread in South Africa and related government information, click here. View the latest global dashboard here.
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COVID-19 is diagnosed by a laboratory test, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) molecular test, on a respiratory tract sample (e.g. sample from nose, throat or chest). For specific guidance on sample collection and transport please visit the NICD’s website:
If you believe that you have been exposed to the coronavirus or you are displaying symptoms of fever, tight chest, coughing, sore throat, muscle aches or other flu-like symptoms, please avoid contact with other people and contact your healthcare practitioner telephonically to ask how to be tested.
Your healthcare practitioner will advise you what to do next to get the care that you need.
Click here to see the correct process to follow.
If you cannot access your healthcare practitioner telephonically, contact the Public Hotline 0800 029 999, for further instructions.
Please be aware and respect each facilities’ prevention protection measures. Click here to read about the Netcare Group’s prevention measures and what you should do when visiting their facilities.
While anyone can get COVID-19, some groups of people are at more at risk than others and are most vulnerable to getting very sick from the virus. These include:
The current criteria is as follows:
The person has been in contact with a COVID-19 positive patient and the person is displaying symptoms of fever, tight chest and a sore throat, not attributable to any other disease.
The person has travelled to a COVID-19 high-risk area within 14 days prior to symptom onset and the person is displaying symptoms of fever, tight chest and a sore throat, not attributable to any other disease.
The person has acute severe respiratory infection, needs to be hospitalised and symptoms cannot be attributed to any other disease.
To see the appropriate testing guide for COVID-19, click here.
Testing at private laboratories
To ensure that the available capacity for testing is used in the most optimal way and that the patients who are at risk receive the clinical care that they need, only patients in the below categories will be tested in South African private laboratories, on referral by a health care professional:
Until further notice, no testing will be offered to the following patients:
The current practice is as follows: (this is subject to change as national developments occur)
CAMAF will pay for the tests from benefits available if not a ‘person under investigation’ (PUI) and is allowed by NICD or the laboratory to be tested.
If it is for a ‘person under investigation’, it will be paid from Scheme risk.
If confirmed to be COVID-19, costs will be covered by CAMAF from the Scheme’s risk pool and not from member day to day benefits. (Tests will also be reprocessed from Scheme risk.)
Your other exclusions still apply. If a member is diagnosed with COVID-19, it will be covered as a prescribed minimum benefit.
The most appropriate provider to deal with the matter will be reimbursed.
Do not call your local hospital.
80% of patients with COVID-19 will have no symptoms or have mild symptoms. Please consult your community GP if you need to be tested. Call your doctor first and arrange to be assessed, tested and treated out of hospital.
Any person who is tested is considered a ‘Person under Investigation’ (PUI). A PUI with no, moderate or mild symptoms is required to self-isolate until a negative result is obtained. Depending on symptoms, your doctor will guide your treatment plan.
This is in the best interests of your personal safety.
About 20% of patients with COVID-19 will experience moderate to severe symptoms, especially difficulty breathing. Patients in this category are likely to require hospital admission and are advised to call ahead to the Accident & Emergency Unit to arrange to be assessed.
As the number of COVID-19 infections continue to increase rapidly, many are putting their hope on the availability of a vaccine.
Vaccines, considered one of the most important advances in modern medicine, have been responsible for greatly improving our quality of life over centuries, allowing us to reduce or eliminate many dangerous infectious diseases that we don’t even think about anymore.
However, it is likely that you have heard claims about the COVID-19 vaccine on social media or from people in your life, which may increase your hesitancy about its safety or effectiveness.
Below are CAMAF’s responses to some of the circulating myths or burning questions about COVID-19.
The vaccine may only be purchased centrally by the government at this point. The Department of Health has developed a rollout plan that entails administering the vaccine to individuals at the highest risk of COVID-19 infection. In this regard, healthcare and frontline workers will be prioritised for vaccination. Thereafter the vaccine will be administered to essential service individuals and individuals with co-morbidities, the elderly and the like, and then the rest of the adult population during the third phase. It is also important to realise that the COVID-19 vaccine can be offered to an individual irrespective of the person’s history of a SARS-Cov-2 infection.
As more international and national guidance becomes available, the Council for Medical Schemes, with input from the Health Funders Association (of which CAMAF is a member) and the Board of Healthcare Funders will prepare a detailed framework for the rollout of the vaccine to the portion of the population with private health cover. This will be in alignment with the plan of the Department of Health.
View the CMS press release on COVID-19 vaccine and the medical scheme industry here.
The Council for Medical Schemes announced that schemes need to fund the vaccine as a prescribed minimum benefit. Therefore, all schemes will have to fund the vaccine for their beneficiaries in accordance with the national governmental rollout plan. Even before this announcement, in the earlier part of 2020, CAMAF had already made its plan to fund the vaccine from the reserves known.
There are different COVID-19 vaccines based on different manufacturing technologies.
One category of vaccine is based on a weakened adenovirus (a common virus that impacts the respiratory, gastrointestinal, eyes and in some cases urogenital systems) used to prime a person’s immune system to respond to another virus (e.g., AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson).
The second category is a nanoparticle vaccine that involves a delicate sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which means that it uses a laboratory-made version of the SARS-CoV-2 protein. This protein alone cannot make anyone sick. It initiates the body’s production of the protective antibodies (e.g., Novavax).
The third category uses pieces of human-made genetic material to mimic messenger RNA and instruct a person’s body to produce proteins that can fight a particular virus (e.g., Moderna, Pfizer). “Messenger RNA (mRNA) is found in all living cells. These strands of genetic code act as chemical intermediaries between the DNA in our chromosomes and the cellular machinery that produces the proteins we need to function: mRNA provides the instructions this machinery needs to assemble these proteins. However, mRNA isn’t the same as DNA, and it can’t combine with our DNA to change our genetic code.” – www.GAVI.org
COVID-19 is a global public emergency. In such a pandemic it is necessary for the World Health Organization (WHO) to urgently assess the suitability and safety of novel health products for emergency use to halt the pandemic.
The Emergency Use Listing (EUL) procedure aims to make medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics available as rapidly as possible to address the emergency while adhering to stringent criteria of safety, efficacy, and quality. The assessment weighs the threat posed by the emergency and the benefit that would accrue from the use of the product against any potential risks. The EUL pathway involves a rigorous assessment of late Phase II and III clinical trial data and substantial additional data on safety, efficacy, quality and a risk management plan. The data is reviewed by independent experts and WHO teams who consider the current body of evidence regarding the vaccine under consideration, plans to monitor its use, and further studies. This process involves many countries and experts from individual national authorities are invited to participate in the EUL review.
The research did not start from scratch, as this is not the first coronavirus. SARS-CoV-2 is a virus in the coronavirus family, which has been studied for many ears. Through collaborative efforts, research was pooled, funding obtained, and trials fast-tracked as a result of the crisis caused by the pandemic.
Trials were run internationally and locally, which gives us insight into the vaccine’s behaviour in South Africa.
At least 60% of the population needs to be vaccinated within a given timeframe to achieve herd immunity and stop the spread of the virus. Should many people choose not to receive the vaccine, the virus and its impact will be a reality for us to contend with for a lot longer.
Ivermectin trials are ongoing and have not been concluded. The product is currently approved for parasitic infections in animals and administered as an injection. If efficacy is proven, exceptions are approved for severe parasitic infections in humans, administered in tablet form.
The Department of Health and advisors from the University of Witwatersrand and the University of KwaZulu-Natal have reviewed the available information and have concluded that there was no evidence submitted of superior outcomes in patients using Ivermectin.
The South African Health Product Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has stipulated that Ivermectin use for COVID-19 is not indicated nor approved for use in humans as there is no confirmatory data on the efficacy or evidence as yet. There have also not been any applications for the registration of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 in South Africa. SAHPRA has committed to fast track the review of any such application.
It is also essential for members to remember that the animal anatomy, physiology, etc., is not the same as those of human beings. Therefore, even if the safety and efficacy of Ivermectin can be confirmed; the final product for human consumption that uses a similar active ingredient will most probably be different from the animal product.
CAMAF cannot verify national statistics but can state that the Scheme statistics are aligned with national statistics produced in terms of an increase in deaths. We believe that the statistics may be under-reported as deaths post COVID-19 infections caused by complications from the disease, for e.g. a heart attack or embolism, are not reported as COVID-19 deaths.
Although the private hospitals are busy, they have prepared for the second wave and CAMAF members have not experienced problems in accessing hospitals. We receive regular updates from hospitals in terms of their occupancy.
FAKE NEWS AND MISINFORMATION CAN BE A BIG THREAT TO COVID-19 VACCINATION EFFORTS. Living in a digital world means that we have access to the latest information on just about any subject. While this can be powerful and empowering, it can also be harmful.
It is therefore very important that you get all your COVID-19 information from credible sources.
Like any other infectious diseases, COVID-19 can spread through coughing and sneezing, close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands, touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. While the coronavirus is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets, airborne transmission is also possible, particularly in indoor locations where there are crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces. WHO defines airborne transmission as the spread of an infectious agent caused by the dissemination of droplet nuclei (aerosols) that remain infectious when suspended in air over long distances and time.
To protect yourself against any potential infection, we encourage our members to keep germs at bay by following good personal hygiene habits at all times.
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser or wash them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Why? Washing your hands properly is the most important and effective way of killing viruses. Most infections are contracted when our germ infested hands come in contact with our mouths or through contact with other individuals whose hands may come in contact with us.
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain and spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
Getting early treatment will protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections. You must also stay home to rest and give yourself the best chance of recovery if you feel unwell.
Why? By coming to work when you are sick, you increase the risk of spreading illness to those around you.
Stay informed on the latest developments about any virus outbreaks. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your department of health or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from the viruses.
Why? Healthcare providers are best placed to advise on what you should do to protect yourself.
Maintain at least one metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? Droplets may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the virus if the person coughing has the disease.
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
Why? The National Department of Health has recommended that everyone should wear cloth face masks to cover your nose and mouth when going out in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The main benefit of everyone wearing a face mask is to reduce the amount of coronavirus or influenza virus droplets being coughed up by those with the infection. Since some people with coronavirus may not have symptoms or may not know they have it, a face mask will protect people around you if you are infected. The mask will also help to protect yourself from airborne transmission. Click here to learn how to make your own cloth mask.
Are displaying symptoms of fever, tight chest and/or coughing? Contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Call the COVID-19 public helpline on 0800 029 999
Send the word ‘HI’ to 0600 123 456 on WhatsApp
For reliable and up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit these websites:
The World Health Organisation:
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases:
COVID-19 public helpline on 0800 029 999
Prevent social stigma around COVID-19:
When and how to use masks:
WHO FAQ on COVID-19:
World Health Organization. Novel Coronavirus
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Novel Coronavirus 2019 (nCoV-2019)
National Institute for Communicable Diseases. Update on novel coronavirus 2019
Your health and wellness will always be our top priority. CAMAF’s official Wellness Partner is Multiply – a wellness and rewards programme that helps you make the right choices so that you can live a better, healthier life. To keep track of all Multiply and lockdown-related info, click here.
COVID-19 public helpline 0800 029 999
Send the word ‘HI’ to 0600 123 456 on WhatsApp
Simple precautions can make a big difference and everyone has a role to play.
Do your part to stop the spread of diseases