On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, China. ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2’ (SARS-CoV-2) was confirmed as the causative agent of what we now know as ‘Coronavirus Disease 2019’ (COVID-19). Since then, the virus has spread to more than 100 countries, including South Africa.
COVID-19 is the abbreviation for Coronavirus disease and is a disease or illness caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, one of many in the family of coronaviruses. Other viruses in the family of Coronaviruses are responsible for causing the common cold or other respiratory infections. The current virus is a new or novel strain of the Coronavirus and therefor the effects of the infection on the population have been more widespread.
Will the Scheme be closed during the 21 days lockdown?
Medshield Medical Scheme (Medshield) is a Healthcare Funder exempted by the restrictions imposed by the President during the 21 days of national lockdown.
Our Contact Centre will remain operational throughout this time and we will continue to ensure that our service levels are maintained, as far as possible, during these uncertain times.
We urge members to register on the website and download either the Medshield IOS or Android app. Once logged in, these channels provide a host of member specific information at the push of a button.
Log on to our website www.medshield.co.za to register; and/or
Download the Medshield Apple IOS or Android app from the relevant app store
Currently people who have travelled to high risk countries, or have been in contact with somebody with COVID-19 are at higher risk of contracting the virus. Members who are most at risk include the elderly i.e. over 60 years old, and members with compromised immune systems, or underlying condition(s) such as chronic heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, cancers, immune suppression or lung disease, amongst others.
People who develop COVID-19 generally displays a fever, headache, sore throat, cough and muscle aches. In the minority of cases an individual may develop severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest. If this happens, please seek medical care immediately.
When visiting a healthcare professional, or being tested for the COVID-19 virus, the costs will be paid from your Day-to-Day/Savings Limit (depending on your chosen benefit option), whether the diagnosis is positive or negative. If positive the treatment prescribed will continue paying from your current benefits until your condition deteriorates to a Prescribed Minimum Benefit (PMB) condition (click here for more information on PMB conditions https://www.medicalschemes.com/medical_schemes_pmb/ ). Once your condition is diagnosed as a PMB, Medshield will cover the diagnosis, treatment and care costs in full from risk for this condition (as a PMB), irrespective of your chosen benefit option – in other words, this costs will not be paid from your current 2020 benefits.
Person to person contact is the main way the virus spreads. This is either through close contact or by the spread of droplets when someone who has the virus coughs or sneezes on you. Generally if you are more than 2 meters away, the droplets won’t reach you, and should not be able to infect you. However, those droplets can land on surfaces, such as tables, door handles, or any other surface. The virus can survive on the surface for a long time (currently estimated to be between 7-9 days if not cleaned adequately and depending on the type of surface). If you touch that contaminated surface with the virus and then touch your face, especially your eyes, mouth or nose, you could become infected.
As indicated by the South African NICD, there is a short time after contracting the virus where you might not show any symptoms
Diagnosis is made by testing a swab that is inserted into the nose and throat. The South African NICD and private laboratories can perform this test. Sometimes Healthcare Professionals might do an additional blood and saliva test. The test takes about 24 – 48 hours to process. Your treating doctor will inform you about the results.
While the non-chronic members may be the least impacted, anyone can in fact still be silent carriers of the virus and affect the elderly and ill detrimentally, which is why we need to all be practicing preventative measures and use your available Medshield benefits to stay healthy.
The Medshield Wellness Benefit and the SmartCare Benefit is available to all members.
A. The Medshield Flu Vaccination
We are at the onset of the flu season and with the Covid-19 impact it is more important than ever, especially for high-risk members, to get the flu vaccine which is available on Medshield’s Wellness Benefit for adults older than 18 years, up to a maximum of R95. The flu vaccination is available at Medshield Pharmacy Network providers, Clicks Pharmacies and selected SmartCare Clinics. The list of these providers are available on the Scheme website at https://medshield.co.za/medshield-networks/. Members should rather use the aforementioned providers for the flu vaccination to minimise out-of-pocket expenses since Family Practitioners (FP) consultation fees are paid from available Day-to-Day/Savings benefits and does not form part of the Wellness Benefit.
B. The Pneumococcal Vaccine
Seniors over 60 years of age who have high risk conditions such as heart conditions, lung conditions, kidney conditions, Diabetes, HIV or Cancer should please take advantage of the pneumococcal vaccine which is also available on Medshield’s Wellness Benefit (this benefit is not available to MediPhila members).
Additionally, risk of infection and transmission can be reduced by Social Distancing; Reducing personal contact (e.g. by no longer shaking hands); washing your hands before touching your eyes, nose or mouth; coughing and sneezing into your elbow; avoid using handkerchiefs and rather use a tissue.
No, facemasks are only necessary for people who are unwell and medical personnel. Washing your hands regularly is still the most important defence. See the World Health Organization guidance on wearing a mask in the following link: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks
There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. Symptomatic treatment may be given, for example to reduce fever, muscle aches and sore throats. If symptoms are severe (e.g. if an individual requires oxygen due to difficulties inbreathing) hospital treatment will be required. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections and should not be used to treat a viral illness like COVID-19. Antibiotics would only be necessary if there were a secondary bacterial infection present.
If your symptoms are mild, stay at home and treat your symptoms – get plenty of rest, and stay hydrated. Currently the recommended period of time to stay at home is 14 days, as you could infect people around you. Ensure you practice good hand hygiene at home, as well as cleaning any touched surfaces frequently as the virus could be still survive on them for a number of days.
If your symptoms are mild it is not necessary to be tested.
If you have been in contact with somebody with COVID-19 or travelled to an area where there is currently an outbreak, are feeling sick, and have mild symptoms you should:
-Rather stay at home – do not go to school or to another public place.
-Get plenty of rest, and stay hydrated by drinking enough fluids.
-Practice good cough etiquette when coughing or sneezing.
-Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing.
If you feel short of breath, or have difficulty breathing, go to the nearest hospital. If possible, please try to phone ahead and inform the hospital/clinic/GP to tell them that you are coming. If you are coughing, you may be given a facemask to prevent transmission to other patients and healthcare workers.
There is no proof that animals can infect humans with COVID-19.
The Mediclinic assessment tool is an online questionnaire for members of the public to determine if they meet the case definition criteria for Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and whether they need to be seen in an emergency centre. This however does not replace a clinical review with a general practitioner should an individual be concerned about their health. Click here for the assessment.