HomeResourcesGeneral resourcesSouth African guidelines for the testing and treatment of the new coronavirus

South African guidelines for the testing and treatment of the new coronavirus

Author(s): National Institute for Communicable Diseases (David Anderson, Lucille Blumberg, Cheryl Cohen, Tendesayi Kufa-Chakezha, Shaheen Mehtar, Natalie Mayet, Jeremy Nel).

Publication date: 27 March


These are guidelines detailing the clinical management of COVID-19 cases. They are primarily intended for healthcare practitioners caring for patients with symptoms of COVID-19. The guidelines include strategies for managing the clinical care of patients in and outside of healthcare facilities. 

Key take-aways:

  • For most interactions with COVID-19 patients, healthcare workers should wear gloves, an apron or gown and a surgical mask. 
  • N95 or respirator masks are only needed for healthcare workers when taking test samples that may release infectious droplets of spit into the air. For procedures like these, goggles should also be used. 
  • These updated guidelines also specify that patients with mild symptoms can cease self-isolation 14 days after symptoms began. For people with severe symptoms, they can start to have contact with people 14 days after their condition stabilises. 
  • There is no evidence from any randomised controlled clinical trial to support a specific treatment for patients with COVID-19. The combination of two antiretrovirals, lopinavir and ritonavir, has been studied and showed no statistically significant benefit.
  • Guidelines now recommend that when possible, clinicians should consider offering to enrol hospitalised patients in new, registered clinical trials.
  • If patients are offered any treatment outside of these trials, this should follow predefined procedures for the emergency use of unregistered and investigational medicines.
  • Finally, the document offers brief advice about how to manage acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which can be caused by the new coronavirus. 

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.]

Laura Lopez Gonzalez is a freelance health journalist and editor. She was Bhekisisa's news editor then deputy editor between 2016 and 2020.