Coronavirus In SA – Don’t Panic, What You Need to Know

Words: Katrina Rose Wind

*Update: As of March 16th the total number is 61 

In no way do we want to add to the hysteria of Coronavirus but we want you to be informed, and ultimately be safe rather than sorry. Coronavirus or COVID 19 is officially in South Africa, and as of March 11th a thirteenth case has been confirmed. This news has alarmed many South Africans across the country as the fear of it spreading becomes even more palpable.

What is Coronavirus

According to the World Health Organization, Coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means they are transmitted between animals and people, however this strain has spread mainly person-to-person. The first case of COVID 19 is reported to be from Wuhan, China and was first detected in December 2019. It has quickly made its way across the world since it’s detection. The WHO has declared it a global health emergency. The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) has said that “the complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully known. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death.”

However, most information so far has suggested that illness related to COVID 19 is mild.


Signs Of Coronavirus Infection

The WHO reported that the common signs of infection are similar to that of a flu –including fever, cough, respiratory symptoms, breathing difficulties, and shortness of breath. COVID 19, in more severe cases, can cause pneumonia, kidney failure, severe acute respiratory syndrome and even death. However, according to the China CDC, they have found that 81% of Cornoavirus cases have been mild and only 19% can be classified as severe or critical.

Recommendations To Prevent Infection Spread.

The WHO recommends that in order to prevent the spread of the virus we must follow a few simple guidelines. Wash your hands regularly (wash for about twenty seconds), cover your mouth when coughing, cover your nose and mouth when sneezing, throw away your tissues after use, and make sure that you are thoroughly cooking your eggs and meat. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as sneezing and/or coughing. Listen to Obama, we all know the man is incredibly wise!




What Not To Do

First and foremost do not panic. Even though the WHO has noted that it is a global health emergency, and the fear of it being classified as a pandemic is high, you need to remind yourself that the majority who have contracted COVID 19 have not become seriously ill. Only a small percentage have actually required intensive care or have died from the virus. It’s simple. Wash your hands regularly as noted above, keep your distance from those who are sick, and if you are sick, stay home.

Protect yourself and your community by simply staying home when sick.

Now that we understand what COVID 19 is and what to do to protect ourselves we can get down to what you should be buying for that two week stock up. We aren’t saying that it’s time to stock up on hand sanitisers, gloves or face masks but next time you’re at the supermarket maybe grab a couple of extra things, but don’t buy more than you need as the chance of you getting it is slim.

What To Stock Up On Just In Case

It’s been recommended that those who have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of Coronavirus, or those who have travelled recently to any of the countries that have been severely impacted, to self quarantine for 14 days in order to prevent spreading the virus. In the United States,The Department of Homeland Security recommends that Americans have a two-week supply of water and basic food supplies.

It has also been recommended to have basic health supplies and nonprescription drugs on hand, just in case symptoms start to show in order to avoid spread of the virus.

We’ve compiled a list of products to have on hand in the off chance you are asked to self-isolate for two weeks. The important thing is to not panic and to not buy things you wouldn’t normally eat, there is no point in wasting money just because of the Coronavirus hype.



First and foremost, water. Buy enough water for a two week supply, keep in mind that the recommended amount of water per person is about two litters a day. You do the math. Secondly, you should buy enough of the basics to have on hand just in case. We’re talking, toilet paper, detergent, tissues, feminine products be it pads or tampons, pet food if you have a furry friend, diapers, baby food if you have any children, sanitising wipes for counters and anything you can think of that you would need in a 14 day period.


Let’s get down to it, food. Honestly this is up to your own discretion, like we stated above you shouldn’t waste your money on products that you wouldn’t normally buy otherwise. However, Coronavirus or not, it’s important to be mindful and get some nutrient-dense food that will help with a well balanced diet.

Protein-Dense Food

Tinned tuna is so wonderfully versatile. You can add it to salads, sandwiches and many more dishes. It’s a great source of omega-3 and not only does it have a long shelf-life, it’s relatively cheap. The same goes for tinned salmon or any other tinned fish you prefer.

Don’t be afraid of buying eggs, milk, cheese, or yoghurt. Just because the ‘best before’ date might have passed does not mean it’s not safe to eat. That date refers to the quality not the safety, you can still eat these products soon after their ‘best before’ dates have passed, especially if they have been kept in the fridge.

Any type of tinned beans or other legumes (lentils, chick peas etc) are also incredibly versatile and are a great source of fibre. They are also perfect to add to pastas, wraps, salads or soups.

Grains are also important to keep stocked, dried quinoa has a long shelf-life and is a great superfood to have around..


Processed And Unprocessed Carbs

Rice (brown or white), pasta, cereal, bread (can be stored in the freezer to avoid getting mouldy) and oats are all great for quick meals that are stress-free and filling. Don’t skimp on your favourite things though, if you have a favourite crisp why not get it (I know I can’t live without my favourite cheddar cheese flavoured popcorn), or any cracker that you prefer.

Other Tinned Goods/Snacks

Tinned tomatoes and coconut milk are great to have on hand if you want to make a simple curry or a warm pasta that takes no time at all.. Any type of nut butter is also great to have on hand for a quick and easy snack. Don’t sleep on some cereal or protein bars because those bad boys will fill you up and are easy to store. Biltong is another great snack to have, filled with protein and also has a relatively long shelf-life.


Dried fruit is the obvious choice but you can also stock up on your favourite fruit and before they go off put them in the freezer. Frozen berries, bananas, or whatever you like can be a great addition to smoothies and yoghurts.  Don’t forget that apples can last up to six weeks so that’s a great fresh fruit to buy.


You don’t have to succumb to canned veggies if you don’t want to. You simply have to buy some frozen vegetables that you can add to any main dish you’re having whether it be a soup, salad or stir fry. Think green beans, broccoli, carrots, the list goes on.  You can also buy potatoes, whichever type you prefer and those can last up to two weeks.

* The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has a toll-free number for the public that deals with Covid 19 related issues or questions: 0800 029 999. The line is operated 24 hours a day.

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