Educate yourself on the differences between Covid-19 and malaria before taking that summer holiday. Picture: Supplied.
Educate yourself on the differences between Covid-19 and malaria before taking that summer holiday. Picture: Supplied.

Covid-19 vs malaria: what travellers should know

By Travel Reporter Time of article published Oct 27, 2020

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With South Africa in level 1 lockdown, it does not mean that you should let your guard down.

If you booked a December holiday, you should ensure that you take the necessary precautions.

Covid-19 vs malaria

If you’re holidaying in 2020, you need to understand the differences between malaria and Covid-19 symptoms.

According to Sherwin Charles, co-founder of social benefit organisation Goodbye Malaria, when in an endemic area, malaria may pose a more immediate threat than Covid-19.

“Yes, both diseases are potentially deadly, but we must be cognisant of what symptoms to look out for and also remember that, if not treated, malaria can prove deadlier faster and can kill you in a matter of days whereas Covid-19 takes a little longer.”

He shares the symptoms of each.

The most common symptoms of Covid-19 include:

· Fever

· Dry cough

· Tiredness

The most common symptoms of malaria include:

· Fever

· Chills

· Headache

While there are myriad other symptoms that could present themselves, the key shared symptoms between malaria and Covid-19 is the infamous fever.

“If you’re in a malaria area and you start to develop a fever, be mindful not to isolate the potential cause to that of Covid-19 alone.

“When comparing both diseases, malaria is the more immediate threat and should be tested for and treated first.

“That is not to say that you should disregard any Covid-19 precautions in the process, but malaria needs to be ruled out first,” he said.

Charles believes the fact that you can contract both diseases simultaneously makes it even more important to understand the differences between the two.

Protection is the best prevention

So, the good news is, much like Covid-19, malaria is by and large both preventable and treatable.

If you’re in Africa, higher temperatures mean mosquitoes can mature faster and have more time to spread the disease.

The malarial parasite also matures more quickly at warmer temperatures – making Africa a prime spot for malaria to set up shop.

“If you are travelling to areas like Mozambique, the lowveld of Mpumalanga or the Kruger National Park in South Africa this festive season, you need to be prepared.

“But that should not deter you from basking in the glory of this beautiful continent.

“There are plenty of ways to defend yourself against mosquitoes," he added.

What travellers can do:

· Apply insect repellent to exposed skin

· Close windows and doors at night unless they are screened.

· Spray an aerosol insecticide inside the sleeping area.

· Burn mosquito coils and mosquito mats in sleeping areas.

· Sleep under a mosquito-proof bed-net.

· Wear long-sleeved clothing, trousers, and socks if outdoors during this time.

· Wear your mask and social distance to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

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