Dr Ngcebo Mhlongo, a medical doctor based at the Africa Health Research Institute in KwaZulu-Natal, takes us through how we can help stop the spread of COVID-19, and what we can do to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

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How can I help stop the spread of COVID-19?

Stay at home if you can, as our president has instructed. The virus spreads when you inhale droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes – or even talks. The danger is that some people may not know they are infected while spreading the virus. By staying away from public places and not visiting friends and family, you will help to protect yourselves and others. If you must go out for work, for groceries or to a healthcare facility, stay at least two metres away from other people and make sure you wear a cloth face covering. Wash your hands frequently with soapy water for at least 20 seconds. If you do not have water and soap close by, use hand sanitiser, but soap and water are best. Avoid touching your face, because you could have touched contaminated surfaces, and then when you touch your nose, eyes or mouth, you get
infected. At home, make sure you regularly clean surfaces that you touch often – like doorknobs and light switches.

How can I protect myself?

There is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19 yet, but if you have a strong immune system, your body can fight off the virus. Most infected people will get better. To stay healthy, follow the above advice and maintain a healthy lifestyle through eating healthy food, drinking enough water and exercising (within lockdown regulations). It is important for people with HIV, TB, diabetes and other conditions to continue taking their medication as usual. If you are feeling sick in any way, please consult your doctor or clinic. Do not ignore any health problems, because now it is more important than ever to know everything about your health.

This article was published in collaboration with the Africa Health Research Institute.