Could you have coronavirus and not know?

Covid-19. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)
Covid-19. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)

In less than two weeks the novel virus spread rapidly across South Africa.

On Thursday, the health ministry revealed that there are 150 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country.

Meanwhile in the UK, doctors have advised that anyone who develops a new, persistent cough or high temperature should stay home for 14 days, keeping away from other people, according to The Guardian.

This applies to everyone, regardless of whether they’ve travelled abroad or not.

The doctors emphasised that the virus is spread mainly by people who are already showing symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

One would think this would make it much easier to control an outbreak, but a new study of nine people who contracted the virus in Germany suggests that people are mainly contagious before they have symptoms and in the first week of the disease.

A test won’t confirm that you have Covid-19, which is why a test for the virus is only done once a person shows symptoms.

A Pretoria-based doctor said it’s possible for someone to have the virus and not know, which could mean that someone who has the coronavirus may be asymptomatic between a period of five and 14 days, until the virus activates the antibodies.

As soon as the antibodies are activated the symptoms start to show. Regardless of the asymptomatic period, however, a person many still be contagious.

The sicker a person becomes, the more likely they are to spread the virus, says the National Institute for Public Health. The virus gets into the air through small droplets. If other people inhale these droplets or transfer them through contact from their hands to their mouth, nose or eyes, for example, they can become infected. 


Here are ways to prevent the chances of contracting and spreading the virus

·       If you have a runny nose, cough, sore throat or a fever, stay home. Avoid social contacts.

·       If you don’t have any symptoms, work from home as much as possible.

·       Wash your hands with soap regularly.

·       Cough and sneeze on the inside of your elbow.

·       Use tissue rather than handkerchiefs.

·       Don’t shake hands with others.

Source: Science News, National Institute for Public Health, The Guardian, Twitter

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