COVID-19 Update: 27 March 2020

The Society welcomes the latest bold measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in the fight against the global COVID-19 enemy. Members are urged to adhere to the national lockdown rules as announced by the President.

The Society does not expect to be impacted by the lockdown from midnight Thursday, 26 March, as we have reason to believe that the Scheme will be included in the list of essential services. We are awaiting confirmation hereof.

In the unlikely event of the Society being required to close its office, service will continue as we have plans for employees to work remotely. There may be a temporary increase in the turnaround time of responding to queries and we ask our members to be patient in this regard. All queries will be attended to and will be prioritised based on their nature.

The Society has put funding protocols in place to ensure that all our members are covered for any tests and/or treatment that they might need.

Below we’ve answered some frequently asked questions received from our members:

Will the Society still be open if I need help?

Our team remains committed to providing you with the peace of mind that you have become accustomed to.

Support will continue as normal; however, please understand and be patient if responses are delayed, as many of our staff will be working remotely. (As a result of the national lockdown, walk-in consultations will temporarily put on hold until further notice).

We will continue to monitor the situation around COVID-19 and will share any pertinent information that may affect our members’ health.

We remain open for business and value your understanding in these trying times. It is important to understand that we all have a role to play in supporting each other during this time and more importantly in ensuring our collective responsibility in being agents of positive contribution.

Will the Society cover me if I am infected?

Yes, in the case of a positive diagnosis, you, your representative or your healthcare provider must notify the Society of the diagnosis as soon as possible. Your healthcare provider will prescribe the necessary care, depending on the severity of your symptoms. The Society will cover out-of-hospital and in-hospital treatment according to the normal Society benefits and in conjunction with the Council for Medical Schemes guidelines for COVID-19.

I am experiencing symptoms. Should I see the doctor?

It would be advisable to contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor may want you to come in or may be able to consult with you telephonically.

If I want to be tested myself, can I do so?

No, only your doctor can request this if you meet the criteria to be considered a person under investigation. These tests are done by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases(NICD) and certain private laboratories.

Tests through self-referrals will not be paid by the Society.

Where are the testing facilities?

Your doctor will co-ordinate everything for you, including sending your test results to the NICD. When feedback is received, he/she will contact you.

How long will it take them to test my blood/swabs?

It is estimated that it may take approximately 72 hours. During this period, it is advisable to stay indoors and remain isolated until the results have been confirmed. The same would apply to your family.

What is the next step if my results come back positive?

Your doctor will guide you. Please remember that not all confirmed cases will require hospitalisation. You might be advised by your doctor to remain in isolation at home for a specified period of time, which may be anything from 14 to 21 days to be on the safe side. If your symptoms worsen while you are at home, please consult your doctor immediately again. Your doctor will then decide whether you need to be admitted to hospital or not.

Please remember that you or your doctor will still be required to contact the Society on 0800 111 669 for an authorisation to be admitted to hospital.

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

There is no vaccine yet to combat this disease. There are also currently no specific medicines available to treat COVID-19. Mild disease is usually best treated with over-the-counter medicines that help with symptom management.

Acute medication as prescribed by your doctor will be covered in accordance with the rules of the Society.

If there are complications, for example bacterial infections such as pneumonia, you will be treated with antibiotics or possibly hospitalised depending on the severity of your condition. Again, please remember that most positive COVID-19 cases will NOT require hospitalisation.

Are our hospitals and healthcare providers equipped to deal with positive cases?

All hospitals have clearly defined protocols which they will follow in the event of being faced with identified or potential cases. All providers also know how to deal with the various scenarios.

Will I still be able to get my chronic medicines during the lockdown period?

We acknowledge that members who are registered for chronic medicine may feel concerned about the provision of their chronic medicines.  However, as pharmacies are exempted from this lockdown, the availability of your medicine should not be affected. Dis-Chem Medicine Courier Pharmacies will also continue to deliver your medicine via courier if you can’t get to a local Dischem Pharmacy.

Having said that, concerns with supply chains of essentials such as medicines have been noted and all stakeholders are actively working to manage these risks. As a Society, we have ensured that there is active engagement with the pharmaceutical industry and have mechanisms in place to manage any stock concerns that may arise relating to your chronic medication.

Should we receive notification of supply problems with recommended formulary medicines, we will advise on suitable formulary alternatives that the Society will cover to ensure the continuity of your care. We strongly discourage the stockpiling of medicines as this tends to create problems where there otherwise would not be.

Is there anything else I can do about COVID-19?

Although the national lock-down will dramatically reduce the risk of cross-contamination, we encourage you to continue being vigilant in protecting yourself and others by doing the following:

  • Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; and
  • Practice respiratory hygiene, by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

We also highly recommend getting the annual flu vaccine, as it will lessen the burden on the health-care system and protect you against a respiratory disease that is dangerous in its own right. See more here.

If you have any questions, please get in touch via email, or call 053 807 3111.