Fighting covid-19 requires a healthy lifestyle. Picture: IANS
Fighting covid-19 requires a healthy lifestyle. Picture: IANS

How healthy eating, discipline and exercise can aid in recovery of Covid-19

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Apr 20, 2020

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As the Covid-19 infections continue to rise in South Africa, it is encouraging to note the number of people who have recovered from the virus. 

On a daily basis, various South African news platforms continue to update readers on the latest statistics, offering geographic breakdowns across the provinces. A drawback of these updates is a surge in the anxiety levels of individuals fearing the worse. 

No one is immune to the virus and, to date, many influential figures and politicians have admitted to testing positive for the coronavirus. 

Last month, Ndaba Mandela, who is Nelson Mandela's grandson, revealed he was infected. He has since recovered and tested negative in a follow-up check. He revealed that got tested, despite not showing any symptoms, after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for anyone who recently traveled abroad to do so. 

"I got a little bit freaked out," admitted Mandela, on receiving his results. 

He eventually calmed down and urges others facing similar anxiety around the spread of the virus, to do the same.

He said: ‘’I woke up in the morning and made hot water, honey, ginger, lemon. I chewed on garlic and ate oranges  to take away the harshness of the garlic.” 

He ate healthily, exercised and stayed away from alcohol. In addition, he made a big bowl of boiling water, added eucalyptus, lemon, turmeric, ginger and breathed into it covered with a blanket.

Another high-profile case was that of Cecilia Molokwane, the Netball South Africa President, who had to be in quarantine for two weeks after testing positive for covid-19.

She recovered but she says it took discipline.  

"It is such an exhausting exercise, however,  it's worth it to be self-quarantined for my sake and the sake of those close to you. I have a 3-year-old daughter not being able to even give her a hug is a nightmare; one needs to be self-disciplined because the virus doesn't move, people do,” said Molokwane.

The virus affects people differently. According to the Department of Health, only about 6% of covid-19 patients will need intensive care while 82% of cases are mild.

National public health institute of the United States,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also noted that those covid-19 individuals, who are isolating at home, are deemed to have recovered if they meet these criteria:

  1. No fever for at least 72 hours without using fever-reducing medications
  2. Improvement in other coronavirus-related symptoms, such as cough or shortness of breath
  3. A period of at least seven days has passed since symptoms first appeared

CDC's criteria includes two consecutive tests that are negative, which must be done 24 hours apart, along with no longer having a fever and seeing improvement in symptoms. However, this may diffrer 

Meanwhile, Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme, mentioned in his interview with CNN that it can take several weeks to fully recover from illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

"It takes anything up to six weeks to recover from this disease," Ryan said. "People who suffer very severe illness can take months to recover from the illness."

Ryan added that recovery is often measured as the patient no longer exhibiting symptoms and having two consecutive negative tests for the virus at least one day apart -but some countries may measure "recovery" differently.

The National Department of Health spokesperson, Popo Maja said it would be misleading to prescribe an exact process on what people should take to recover at the moment. 

“You treat symptoms because it depends on the symptoms of the person. Some people may not be aware because their bodies automatically fight off symptoms. While most people recover from it without taking anything.”

Maja said that when a person tests positive for covid-19 health officials can recommend management methods or medication to help your body recover. 

He noted, depending on the symptoms shown such as a  headache and sore throat, health officials may prescribe drugs that have three properties which include analgesics, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic.

Maja added that it’s important to note that with the cases that have led to hospitalization, it was because the patient had other existing health issues like liver disease, chronic cancer diseases, heart condition or diabetes, which led to the patient having a compromised immune system.

The medical guidance is that when a patient is admitted to hospital, priority treatment is given to the condition that has been exacerbated by the covid-19 

Maja continued: “The only prescription that we can give people is prevention because there is no cure/vaccine; that is why we are asking people to wash their hands and practise good hygiene.”

And, he encouraged people to adhere to a healthy diet and exercise during the lockdown.

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