As the Coronavirus has spread around the world, we are learning more and more about this virus and how it affects people. In particular we know that the virus is far more serious for older people, people with chronic conditions, and those with a weaker immune system.

So what is the Coronavirus? 

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by a newly identified coronavirus that was first discovered in Wuhan, China. Most commonly the virus causes a fever, dry cough and tiredness, but symptoms can include aches and pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhoea, loss of taste or smell,  a rash on the skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.

About 80% of people who get COVID-19 recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. But according to the World Health Organization, about one out of every five people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing, and will require medical attention.

Who is worst affected by COVID-19?  

Older people, and those with chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV, heart and lung problems or cancer, are at higher risk of developing serious illness.  But remember that anyone can catch COVID-19 and become seriously ill.

Why are people with chronic conditions worse affected? 

People with chronic conditions are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19  because their immune systems may be weaker, making it more difficult for their bodies to fight off a serious infection like the Coronavirus.

If you have a chronic condition and you are not on treatment, or are not taking your medication as prescribed and your treatment is interrupted, you are at greater risk of being infected with COVID-19 and becoming severely ill, which may result in death.

What can you do to protect yourself?

People with chronic conditions should take extra steps to protect themselves from COVID-19.

  1. Take your medication as prescribed
    You might be tempted to avoid the crowded clinics at the moment, but now more than ever it is important to adhere to your treatment. Next time you visit the clinic to collect your medication, find out from the nurse if you qualify to enrol on the CCMDD programme − a convenient service that enables you to collect your medication from one of more than 200 collection points across Durban.
  2. Maintain strict social (physical) distancing
    Always keep 1.5 metres between yourself and other people when out in public. By keeping your distance, you reduce the chance of someone sneezing or coughing on you and passing the virus on to you.
  3. Regular handwashing
    Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, use a hand-sanitiser that is 60% alcohol-based.
  4. Wear a cloth face-mask
    Be sure to always wear a cloth face-mask when you leave the house. Face-masks help to slow the spread of the virus and prevent people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. They also help in reminding you not to touch your face.  Remember to wash your mask after every use.