How do I get official verified information?
Visit the official government SA Coronavirus site to get verified and up-to-date information about the pandemic in South Africa, call the government hotline or visit the WhatsApp Support Line.

Emergency Hotline: 0800 029 999
WhatsApp Support Line: 0600 123456

What should I do if I think I may be sick with the virus?
If you suspect that you are showing symptoms or have come in contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19, do not go to a hospital or clinic or doctor’s rooms, first call one of these numbers and seek advice:

Covid-19 NATIONAL Hotline: 0800029999
Mediclinic Covid-19 Hotline: 0860 240 024
Western Cape Covid-19 Hotline: 021 928 4102
Gauteng Covid-19 Hotline: 0800 428 8364

Why aren’t we allowed in the streets?
The Coronavirus is very infectious. It can stay around for a long time on surfaces and can spread quickly between people. So to stop it spreading we need to stop being in close contact with people.

What is social or physical distancing and why do we need it?
When we do need to go outside, we need to keep a safe distance from others so that if they are infected, or we are infected, the virus doesn’t spread. The problem with this virus is that you can have it for two weeks before you start showing symptoms – and in those two weeks you can infect many others. It also spreads very easily. So that is why we need to keep a physical distance between us and them. The recommended distance is 6 feet (the height of a tall person).

NB: The World Health Organisation is recommending that we call this ‘physical distancing’ – and not social distancing. Why? Because to get through the challenges that lie ahead we need to know that we are in this together – as a society. So. while we may not be able to be physically close to others, we need need to be socially close and caring for one another. The message: Keep your distance. Stay safe. Be kind.

Why is the army in the street?
The army is there to protect you and others from getting the virus, so they are trying to enforce social distancing and staying at home. So they should be there to help you. However, there have been reports that some soldiers and police are treating people badly. If this happens, see the numbers on the Important Numbers page.

How long will the lockdown last?
The President originally announced a lockdown of 21 days, and then extended it by two weeks. Then he introduced levels of lockdown, as we need to be careful that we don’t go back to normal and then have many people getting sick. We don’t know how long these levels will last – it all depends on whether fewer people are getting infected by the virus, and the government is testing and monitoring to check this every day.

President Ramaphosa is being advised by a high-level COVID-19 task force that includes top scientists who are doing their best to forecast different scenarios in order to ensure the health and safety of citizens.

Why do we have to wash hands?
The virus needs to get into your body through your mouth or nose or eyes – it can’t just soak in through your hands. So if you touch surfaces that have the virus, and then you wash your hands with soap (for at least 20 seconds) then you will get rid of lots of germs, including the Coronavirus.

Why do we have to wear facemasks?
The virus is very catchy and spreads easily. Facemasks protect us from other people’s germs, and also prevents us from spreading the virus if we are carrying it.

Will I die if I get the virus?
No, not everyone dies! There are people dying, but many more people recover. And there are some people who seem to get it but don’t even have any symptoms.

However it is very infectious, and some people do die, and many people will need to go to hospital because they are so sick they can’t breathe properly without the assistance of additional oxygen or ventilators. And this is the major problem: even though not everyone gets very sick, many people do – especially those with underlying illnesses like diabetes, HIV, high blood pressure, TB and other respiratory conditions.

If this happens, the hospitals struggle to help everyone who comes because the disease has spread so quickly. Hospitals also need to use ventilators to help people breathe who come to hospital with the disease, as coronavirus affects people’s lungs. If too many people are admitted to hospital at once there won’t be enough ventilators and other equipment or beds that doctors need to treat them.

This also means that hospitals won’t be able to help people who come in with other health problems. This is the situation we are trying to avoid with the lockdown.

How can you cure the virus? Is there a vaccine?
There is no way to cure the virus at this stage – we can only try to make patients more comfortable – and to keep them breathing on ventilators if they are hospitalised. If you are not very sick, you just need to take something like Panado that takes away the pain and fever. However, if you struggle to breathe (the virus does attack people’s lungs) then you need to go into hospital to be put on a ventilator (a machine that helps you breathe).

Scientists are working on finding medication that can help people to recover if they are sick with the virus, and also to develop a vaccine that can prevent people from getting the virus. However it will take at least a year to develop a vaccine, and realistically it could take 18 months.

What am I allowed to out for?
In level 5, you were allowed to go out to buy food, medication, airtime, petrol, or get your grant. These are considered essential services that you cannot go without. In Level 4 you are allowed to get exercise for a short time.

Tell us: what other questions do you want answered about the lockdown?