Dr Thembi Xulu, executive director of Right to Care: “The way people are behaving today, you would think that the virus only starts tomorrow." Video: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency

WATCH: Panic buying puts SA shoppers at severe risk of contracting Covid-19

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Mar 26, 2020

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Cape Town - The hoards of people who are out there panic-buying at shops are putting you at high risk for contracting Covid-19.

This comes from HIV/Aids and TB NGO, Right to Care, that's supporting the Department of Health during the coronavirus pandemic. The NGO has issued an urgent warning to South African citizens that overcrowding was the ideal environment for the spread of Covid-19. 

“Stay away!” says Dr Thembi Xulu, executive director of Right to Care. 

“The way people are behaving today, you would think that the virus only starts tomorrow. The whole purpose of the lockdown is to ensure that people are not close to one and maintain strict social distance of one metre or more between each other. I do not recommend going out at all today to the shops.

“Older people and those with high risk conditions should no longer be going to the shops at all and should get family or community members to help them. Everyone should be avoiding all social contact. Standing together in long queues for a long time is putting you at high risk. Rather go shopping after lockdown. The country has been assured that there will be sufficient supplies.” 

“Remember that even though you may be young and healthy, you can transmit the disease to your parents, grandparents and other family members. Do not go out if you can possibly help it,” Xulu stressed.

Dr Thembi Xulu, executive director of Right to Care: “The way people are behaving today, you would think that the virus only starts tomorrow."Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency
Dr Thembi Xulu, executive director of Right to Care: “The way people are behaving today, you would think that the virus only starts tomorrow." Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency

Who is at higher risk for severe illness?

Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention has stated that older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from Covid-19

Based upon available information to date, those at high-risk for severe illness from Covid-19 include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Other high-risk conditions could include:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have serious heart conditions
    • People who are immunocompromised.  Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including poorly controlled HIV or Aids or TB, those undergoing cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
    • People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk
  • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on Covid-19 has not shown increased risk

Right to Care is supporting the Department of Health with its Covid-19 response, providing technical assistance including co-ordination, dedicated disaster medicine, enhanced surveillance, case identification and contact tracing, enhancing laboratory capacity for testing, case management and communication.

Panic buying. Score of people queue outside Shoprite as security allow only a few people in at a time, hours to lock down. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency
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* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak visit IOL's #Coronavirus trend page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999

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