Africa: How to Stay Safe in Public During the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 Mask

With parts of the South African Economy that has opened up, people are looking at ways of resuming some of their daily activities as safely as possible. It is now of the utmost importance to understand the potential risks of being infected and how to adopt different types of preventative measures to protect yourself and others around you and help to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

If you are sick with COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive with COVID-19, you need to stay at home and away from other people.

Always check the Government Regulations. Regulations are constantly updated by the Coronavirus task teams.

Visit https://sacoronavirus.co.za/ for detailed information.

When can you leave your home and be amongst other people?

Different factors for different situations will determine whether you can leave your home and be around others. Here are a few things to consider:

The number of people you will be interacting with:

The more people you interact with increases your risk of being infected.

If you are in a group of people that are not adhering to the rules of social distancing and wearing cloth masks, it increases your risk.

Sometimes people have the virus and are asymptomatic, and it has not yet been determined how often people without symptoms can transmit the virus to others.

Will you be able to keep your social distancing?

Keeping a distance of 1.5m between you and other people is very important.

Being outdoors rather than indoors is less risky as there is less ventilation inside, and it is easier for people to keep their distance outside.

How long will you be interacting with other people?

If you spend more time with people who might be infected, it increases your risk of being infected.

If you spend more time with other people, it increases their risk of contracting COVID-19 if you may already be infected.

Will you be in close contact with other people when you go out?

Make sure that you and the people around you practice social distancing and wear a cloth face mask at all times when in public and wash their hands often.

Physical barriers, like Plexiglass screens or modified layouts, can also help you keep your distance from others.

Do you fall in the high-risk category for severe illness from COVID-19?

Your risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age. Older people and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Do you live with people in the high-risk category for severe illness from COVID-19?

When you live with people that fall in the high-risk category for severe illness from COVID-19, you and your family need to take extra preventative actions to minimise the risk.

Will you have to share any items, equipment, or tools with other people?

When you decide to go out, choose places where the sharing of items is limited, and shared items are cleaned and disinfected between use.

Will I have to make use of public transport when going out?

When you are making use of public transport to go out, please:

Make sure you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol before you leave.

When you have reached your destination, rewash your hands.

Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Try and practice your social distancing by keeping at least 1.5 meters away from other people who are not from your household.

Wear a cloth face mask. A cloth mask with a visor provides additional protection for you and those around you.

Please note that the following people should not wear a cloth face mask:

Babies and children younger than 2 years old,

A sick person who is unconscious, and

People who are incapacitated or are unable to remove the covering without assistance.

Grocery shopping

Do not go shopping if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19.

If you can order food and other items online, do so.

To reduce your risk of potential exposure to other people and COVID-19, please try and limit your visits to grocery stores and other stores selling household goods to when you absolutely need to.

Protect yourself while shopping by adhering to:

Keeping physical distancing of 1.5 meters from others and covering your mouth and nose with a cloth facemask when in public.

Go to the shops during hours when fewer people are there (i.e. early morning or late night)

Try using touchless payment methods (i.e. pay without touching money, a card or keypad). If not possible, use hand sanitiser immediately after paying.

Use sanitiser as soon as you leave the store.

Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds as soon as you arrive at home.

Collecting deliveries or takeout

If possible, pay online or on the phone when you place the order.

Try and avoid in-person contact when accepting deliveries. If not possible, keep your distance of 1.5m away from the delivery person.

Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol after receiving your delivery or bringing home your takeout food.

Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol after accepting deliveries or collecting your mail from the post office or home mailbox.

Making use of banking facilities

Find out whether there are options for telephone or virtual meetings to use banking services.

In the event of you visiting the bank in person and being unable to keep physical distancing of 1.5m, please wear a cloth facemask.

Make use of hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol after you have made any deposit, withdrawal or use of an ATM.

When you arrive at your destination or back home, wash your hands thoroughly.

When you visit your doctor or getting medicine

Try talking to your doctor online, by phone or email.

If you have to visit the doctor in person, protect yourself and others by wearing a cloth face mask.

Avoid touching your face, nose and eyes and keep your physical distance of 1.5m from other people.

Try using touchless payment methods (i.e. pay without touching money, a card or keypad). If not possible, use hand sanitiser immediately after paying.

After arriving at home, ensure that you wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.

References:

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/deciding-to-go-out.html

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