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Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

About coronaviruses

Coronaviruses 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) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.

A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, which indicates that person-to-person spread is occurring.

How does the virus spread?

COVID-19 spreads quickly, through:

  • coughing or sneezing – people could catch COVID-19 if they are standing within one metre of a person who has the illness, by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by the ill person;
  • close personal contact, such as when shaking hands or touching others;
  • touching an object or surface on which the virus is found (after an ill person coughs or exhales close to these objects or surfaces such as desks, tables or telephones), then - before washing the hands – touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 infection?

The primary symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

When should individuals consult with their healthcare provider?

Doctors can only treat the symptoms of COVID-19 as they present. No specific therapy has been shown to be effective against the virus itself. If you feel ill and have any of the symptoms of infection with COVID-19 you must seek medical care early and share your previous travel history with your healthcare provider.

People who contract the COVID-19 may take anywhere from one to 14 days to develop symptoms. Even if you do not have a history of travel to a COVID-19-affected region, or contact with an individual who has acquired the illness, you must still inform your healthcare provider if you experience the symptoms of COVID-19.

“The global outbreak has proven that no country or citizen is immune to the spread of coronavirus 2019. However, we are confident in our country’s ability to manage the first local case of COVID-19 and further cases as they present.”

COVID-19 Podcasts


These podcasts were made available to us by our Administrator Discovery Health. We published them here as we think this information is valuable to you. Please note that some information might be specific to Discovery Health Medical Scheme, such as the information about DrConnect, which is not yet available to AMS.

Part 1 COVID-19 - Understand COVI-19 Dr Ryan Noach Discovery Health CEO

It’s hard to keep up with the pace of news around the global health emergency that is the novel coronavirus 2019 – now known as COVID-19. We have an opportunity to unite in our understanding and response to the presence of COVID-19, to prevent the spread of the virus in South Africa. In this podcast, Dr Ryan Noach, Discovery Health CEO shares his insights on COVID-19 by providing a clear breakdown of what COVID-19 is, how to understand it, and what we can do to best manage the risks that it represents. Stay Informed. Stay Healthy.

Part 2 COVID-19 - Social distancing and the role of telemedicine to
“flatten the curve” Dr Ryan Noach, CEO Discovery Health

As the outbreak of COVID 19 continues to spread across South Africa, we have a narrow window of opportunity to slow the spread. Social distancing is one way to help stop the virus from spreading and "flattening the curve". Listen to Dr Noach share his views on how we can respond as a nation to prevent the spread of the virus and the growing relevance of telemedicine

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