What we now know about Covid-19 – staying safe over the festive season | Western Cape Government

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What we now know about Covid-19 – staying safe over the festive season

8 December 2020

What we now know about Covid-19 – and how we all need to adapt to stay safe over the festive season

During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has learned a lot, and continues to learn more about the virus and how it spreads. 

As we head into this year’s Festive Season, we have gained new insights into the virus and identified practical things we can do to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe.  

Traditionally over this period families get together to celebrate. However, 2020 is different and we need to do things differently to protect each other. 

COVID-19 still has many scientists trying to get certainty on the virus’ behaviour but insights into what we learned as a province shows:  

  • While hands and surface cleaning are important, we now know that air droplets cause most COVID-19 infections, as humans breathe in small droplets containing the virus. As a result, we also know that social gatherings contribute substantially to its spread. 
  • We previously thought transmission starts between 2 days before and up to 14 days after symptoms spread. We now know with more certainty that highest rate of transmission occurs in first 2 days of infection.  
  • We previously thought the virus mainly spreads by symptomatic adults, but we now know that it can be spread by people of all ages including children, teenagers and adults with few or no symptoms. Although children are very low risk for severe COVID-illness, we must remember that they are still able to spread the virus to those who are vulnerable and at risk for severe COVID-illness. That is why we all, regardless of age, need to play our part to slow the spread. 

 With all this new knowledge at our disposal, how can we have a safe Festive Season and keep each other safe?  

 The Department of Health has developed practical “safe keeping” tips for the public to follow and support the efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19: 

  • Reconsider having a traditional celebration – go virtual, especially for those at highest risk of severe illness. 
  • Be careful about sharing your “air space” by avoiding crowds where you cannot keep 1.5m distance, and make sure you wear a mask. 
  • Avoid non-essential gatherings (get-togethers, social events, etc) 
  • Ensure the venue where you are has good ventilation by opening windows and doors  
  • If you must gather, consider having get-togethers and social events outdoors  
  • Always wear a mask when in public or when having people around. 
  • Limit the size of your get-together (more people = more risk) 
  • Keep them short (longer = more risk) 
  • If you are sick – stay home and arrange a test 
  • Quarantine if you have had a close contact and isolate while awaiting test results including from other household members and especially those at risk of severe COVID-19. 
  • Complete isolation period if you test positive. 

Go Smaller  

Go Outdoors

Go Spaciaous

Go Virtual