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South Africa guidelines for contact tracing of COVID-19 patients, health promotion and handling of remains

Guidelines on how we navigate home and work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Resource details:

Publication title: COVID-19 Environmental Health Guidelines
Author(s): Department of Health
Publication date: 16 March 2020

What the guidelines are about:

These National Department of Health (NDoH) guidelines cover questions about hygiene practices concerning COVID-19, including how to prepare bodies for burial, transport human remains and trace possible contacts of COVID-19. The document also outlines precautions to take at home or in the workplace following confirmed cases of the disease.

Key take-aways from the guidelines:

Precautions for households with confirmed cases of COVID-19:

  • The NDoH recommends that the bathrooms of people who have contracted or come into contact with COVID-19 be cleaned at least once a day.
  • Clothes, linen and towels should be washed regularly with ordinary detergent and water and should be dried thoroughly.
  • Protective gear such as aprons and single-use or utility gloves should be worn when cleaning home surfaces and clothing. These should then be adequately cleaned or disposed of.

Precautions for workplaces with confirmed cases of COVID-19:

  • Working surfaces and objects should be disinfected regularly, and particularly those one would come into contact with most often such as keyboards, desks and phones.
  • Protective clothing should be worn when cleaning surfaces and objects. This includes wearing aprons and gloves (utility or single-use). This protective gear should be cleaned regularly too (or safely disposed of in the case of single-use gloves).
  • Hand hygiene should be practised. This includes regularly and thoroughly washing hands with soap and water. When soap and water aren’t immediately accessible, an alcohol-based sanitiser is recommended.
  • Additionally, the department suggests that employees experiencing symptoms, including “a mild cough or low-grade fever” stay home and work remotely if possible.

Precautions for health workers and contact tracing:

  • People preparing bodies for burial or conducting post-mortems should wear protective gear to avoid possible infection. This includes wearing personal protective equipment.
  • Human remains that risk transmitting an infectious illness may not be transported in public without prior written approval from a doctor. The remains should be safely treated and disinfected.
  • Provincial Communicable Diseases Coordinators (CDC) are charged with collating a list of people who were exposed to a patient with COVID-19. These people will be contacted and should be assessed by coordinators. Suspected cases will be placed under observation. Non-symptomatic cases will be monitored telephonically by the CDC.

Download the guidelines

[Please note: Information on the new coronavirus is rapidly changing. Please refer to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases’ website for the latest information.]

Gopolang Makou was the impact and engagement officer at Bhekisisa.