What to do if you think you have symptoms of COVID-19


Discovery Health CEO Dr Ryan Noach has called on all South Africans to work together to stop the 2019 coronavirus in its tracks. What should you do if you think you have symptoms of COVID-19? Stay calm, and contact your doctor electronically.

We’re learning more and more information about COVID-19 every day,” the World Health Organization’s Dr Maria Van Kerkhove recently said in a video on the WHO Twitter page. As our wealth of knowledge about coronavirus 2019 grows, so do our defences. Here’s what you can do if you suspect you might have contracted the virus.

Know the symptoms of COVID-19

People who contract COVID-19 may start developing symptoms anywhere from 1 to 14 days after being exposed to the virus. If you develop a cough, have a fever or experience a shortness of breath, it may indicate a respiratory infection or another serious condition.

Should you go straight to the doctor’s waiting room?

The World Health Organization and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States of America both recommend that if you start showing symptoms, you should first call your doctor or other healthcare provider.

Do not go straight to the waiting room. Call in advance and tell your doctor:

  • What your symptoms are
  • If you’ve travelled recently
  • If you’ve had any contact with people who have travelled recently
  • If you’ve had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19

Why should you call ahead? It will help your doctor assess the situation and tell you exactly what to do and where to go for tests. What’s more, sitting in a waiting room may increase other people’s risks of contracting coronavirus from you if you are indeed infected. It also puts you at risk of getting other infections.

Minimise your risk with an online consultation

Today, it’s easier than ever to check in with your doctor from your phone. If you suspect that you might have COVID-19, you can contact your doctor via email or use a number of health apps. Virtual consultations are simple to access and available at any time and from any place, making it a safer option in the face of coronavirus 2019.

Members have access to Discovery DrConnect through the Discovery website or app, which gives them access to trusted medical advice at the touch of a button. DrConnect allows members to have virtual consultations with participating doctors and schedule follow-ups. Read more about Discovery DrConnect.

“Every South African plays a role in the constructive, national effort to curb the spread of COVID-19,” says Dr Ryan Noach, Chief Executive Officer at Discovery Health. “Our individual and national response to coronavirus 2019 should be to follow the guidelines on minimising infection risk, access healthcare swiftly when at risk and to prevent the spread of stigma around COVID-19.”

Measuring the rural health impact of a game-changing mobile app. Link: https://www.discovery.co.za/corporate/health-dr-natasha-blanckenberg-rural-health-impact

UK National Health Service. Online consultation. Link: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/the-nhs-app/help/online-consultations/

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus 2019 symptoms. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html

Vula Mobile. Link: https://www.vulamobile.com/

World Health Organization. Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19). Link: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

All medical information found on this website including content, graphics and images, is for educational and informational objectives only. Discovery Health publishes this content to help to protect and empower all South Africans by promoting a better understanding of COVID-19.

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