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22nd April 2024

The Bench Marks Foundation has prepared this fact sheet for individuals, communities and movements we work with. Read. Discuss and Share.

Ten Steps to Take if you Test Positive for Covid-19
1. Act immediately!
If you test positive, it is important to act immediately. By doing so you may save yourself from serious illness or worse.
2. Get professional advice
Get advice from a help line, health worker, doctor, clinic or hospital. If possible, a doctor should monitor your situation closely. Some traditional healers too have received training to help manage Covid in persons who are infected and recovering at home. If you consult a traditional healer, ask if they have received such training.
3. Immediately self-isolate – go to a government or community institution if necessary
You should immediately self-isolate. Separate yourself from other people in your home in a well-ventilated bedroom.
◦ Your family should not stay or sleep in the same room as you.
◦ Use a separate bathroom if possible. If you have to share a bathroom, clean after every use.
◦ Avoid sharing items and the same spaces with other people in the home and clean surfaces often.
◦ If self-isolation is not possible, contact your local church, community centre or government help line to arrange to self-isolate outside your home.
4. Keep your viral load down (the amount of virus in your body)
Your viral load is the amount of virus in your body. The greater the amount of virus in your body, the more ill you are likely become. Help to keep your viral load down in your throat and nasal passage by gargling and rinsing your nose with warm salt water at least twice a day. A dropper bottle can be used to rinse your nose. You can also steam yourself. Please be careful not to burn yourself.
If you can afford it, use a saline nasal spray and an anti-bacterial medication such as Betadine mouth/throat gargle. A few drops of Betadine concentrate placed in a dropper bottle of saline solution to rinse your nose can also be used. It is also good to drink hot liquids, such as tea or a mix of ginger and turmeric in water.
5. Keep your immune system high (your bodily defence system)
Your body has defences to fight against infection of all kinds. This is your immune system. It is important that you keep this system functioning as well as possible. Medical specialists recommend:
◦ Eat healthy foods, including fruit and vegetables regularly.
◦ Drink plenty of water.
◦ If you smoke, stop or at least reduce smoking.
◦ Vitamins are necessary, including vitamin C, D and zinc. Fruit and vegetables are an important source of vitamins and sunlight also provides vitamin D. Also buy vitamin tablets if you can afford.
◦ Keep as relaxed as possible and get plenty of rest.
6. Carry out breathing exercises to clear your lungs and improve your flow of oxygen
Breathing exercises help clear your lungs and improve the flow of oxygen. The exercises expand the lower part of your lungs so that you can dislodge and cough out any mucus that is collecting there.
There are many exercises you can do to help expand your chest. A good one is to blow up a balloon as hard and as forcefully as possible.
If you feel a little short of breath
• Sleep on your stomach for as much as possible with your head turned to the side (prone position).
• It helps to prop a pillow lengthwise underneath your head and chest for this.
• You can also cycle between laying on your belly, on your side and sitting up.
7. Use the normal cold and flu remedies to alleviate your symptoms
Use the usual cold and flu remedies to relieve your symptoms, such as Panado for fever and pain, warm honey and lemon water or lozenges for a sore throat and steam with eucalyptus oil or Vicks for your lungs.
8. Monitor your oxygen levels and breathing
Another important step to take is to monitor the oxygen levels in your blood. This can be done by installing one of the many free APPs on your cellphone or, if you can afford it, buying a device called a pulse oximeter.
By measuring your oxygen levels in your blood it helps to warn you early on when you are in need of medical attention. Your oxygen levels should always be greater than 92%. Please note that these readings only give a rough idea of your oxygen levels.
9. Make sure your underlying medical conditions are well controlled
Take your hypertension, diabetes and other medicines correctly and on time. Monitor your blood pressure and sugar if possible. Some chemist shops provide free tests for diabetes and hypertension but be careful of infection when using these services.
10. Seek medical help immediately if your symptoms get worse, such as difficulty in breathing, or if your symptoms have not improved after seven days
When should I seek medical help?
• If your symptoms are worsening.
• If your symptoms have not improved after 7 days.
• If you become confused or have difficulty concentrating.
• If you develop a new fever or your fever returns.
• If you develop chest pain.
• If your breathing becomes difficult, and the number of breaths you take in one minute (respiratory rate) is more than 25.
• If you are able to measure your oxygen level, it is lower than 92%.
If you have any of these symptoms seek medical help immediately.
Please note: There is now a new Covid-19 variant, called the Delta variant, which is highly infectious and may be confused with a common cold. Information on this variant is available.
July 2021. The main source used is COPING WITH COVID – A GUIDE TO MANAGING MILD COVID-19 DISEASE AT HOME – Dr Aysha Kola and Dr Waasila Jassat. For further information and in particular, breathing exercises, please consult this source.
Fake news
Report fake news through the Real411 website: www.real411.org(link is external) or the Whatsapp line 067 966 4015.
Information on Coronavirus COVID-19
Whatsapp: Say “Hi” to 0600 123 456
For medical enquiries: National Institute for Communicable Diseases 0800 029 999
http://www.nicd.ac.za/(link is external)
COVID-19 National Crisis Helpline
0800 029 999
SA Police Service Crime Stop
08600 10111
SMS Crime Line: 32211
Reporting Undue Price Increases:
0800 141 880
Health and support
SAPS gender-based violence service complaints (SAPS)
0800 333 177
complaintsnodalpoint@saps.gov.za(link sends e-mail)
GBV (Gender Based Violence) Command Centre

0800 428 428 / *120*7867# (free from any cell phone)