Coronavirus update – 11 March 2020

As you probably know, various cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections have now been confirmed in South Africa, including that of a Nedbank staff member. This is understandably causing some concern amongst members, which is why we have put together a communication to answer members’ key questions. We urge you to be alert, but not anxious.

What should I do if I suspect that I have contracted COVID-19?

Please remember that unless you have been travelling, or have had contact with people with known infection, your risk for contracting this virus is extremely low.

However, if you suspect that you might have contracted the virus and are showing signs of respiratory illness, please do the following:

  • Do not go to the doctor, clinic or hospital unannounced, as this may lead to unnecessary and unintended exposure of healthcare workers and others, including sick people.
  • Call your GP’s rooms first to let them know that you are unwell so they can prepare to safely and efficiently receive you. Alternatively, call the NICD hotline on 0800 029 999for guidance.
  • In the meantime, stay at home and avoid close social contact. If possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home, and use a separate bathroom.
  • Monitor your condition and keep your GP updated on a daily basis.
  • Wear a mask if you have to be around other people in your home and wash your hands
  • If a family member cares for you, he/she should wear a face mask when they are in the room with you, and wash their hands thoroughly when they leave the room.
  • When you visit the doctor, clinic or hospital, you will be asked certain questions, examined and informed whether you should be tested. If so, they will collect a specimen for testing and send this to a laboratory. (Previously, only the National Institute for Communicable Diseases [NICD] did the test for COVID-19, but due to demand, private laboratories are now also doing the test if a patient is referred by their healthcare provider and meets the NICD’s criteria for a ‘person under investigation’. Information on test outcomes will still be shared with the NICD.)

What if the test outcome is negative?

If the diagnosis is negative, the related tests will be covered from the overall annual limit and consultations with medical practitioners will be covered from the normal Scheme benefits available on your Plan. (If you test for COVID-19 more than once, subsequent tests will be covered from your available Everyday Services Benefits.)

What if the test outcome is positive?

In the case of a positive diagnosis, you, your representative or your healthcare provider must notify the Scheme of the diagnosis as soon as possible. Your healthcare provider will prescribe the necessary care, depending on the severity of your symptoms. The Scheme will cover out-of-hospital and/or in-hospital treatment according to the usual Scheme benefits.

Will the Scheme cover my expenses if I contract the virus?

All beneficiaries on all Plans will be covered for COVID-19. If you or one of your dependants tests positive for COVID-19, the following benefit cover will apply as per the Scheme rules:

Medical intervention Where? Covered from which benefit?
Diagnostic testing according to agreed protocols Treating doctor will collect specimen Overall annual limit / Prescribed Minimum Benefits
Consultations with your healthcare professional At the practice Overall annual limit / Prescribed Minimum Benefits
Defined supportive treatment and medicine In hospital or out of hospital Overall annual limit / Prescribed Minimum Benefits

How can I prevent contracting the virus?

Continue being vigilant in protecting yourself and others by doing the following:

  1. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly (for 20 seconds) with water and soap on a regular basis.
  2. Considergetting a hand sanitiser (minimum alcohol content 60%) for when you are out and about, or have to use biometric access systems.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  4. Cover your mouthwith a cloth or tissue or the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing.Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  5. Maintain at least 2metersdistance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  6. If possible, postpone any unnecessary international or local travel.
  7. Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.  Alternatively, call the NICD hotline on 0800 029 999 for guidance.
  8. Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
  9. Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots. If possible, avoid travelling to these places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.

What if I have been travelling to affected countries?

For members returning from affected countries, discusswith your doctor how you must self-quarantine (for example, working from home for 14 days after your return). If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you need to get tested.  If the test is negative, you should return to work after the self-quarantine period and a medical certificate must be provided.

What else should I do?

We encourage all members to ensure they have their flu vaccines this year. This will reduce the burden on the healthcare system and might prevent you from being flagged as a potential COVID-19 case. Most importantly, it will help prevent illnesses, regardless of COVID-19. NMAS members and their dependants qualify for a flu vaccine as part of their Health Screening Benefits. In addition, those most at risk from a health point of view if they contract COVID-19 (see next point) should also consider getting the pneumococcal vaccine.

Who should be especially careful to avoid infection?

Elderly members, as well as members with pre-existing conditions (for example, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, hypertension, cancer, HIV and other immune-suppressive conditions), would be more at risk if they contract this virus. If you fall into one of these categories, please take extra care of your health.

How prepared are the Scheme’s service providers to deal with COVID-19?

The Scheme has confirmed the readiness of all hospital groups with which we are in partnership, in investigating and managing COVID-19 infections, and maintaining the necessary protocols. We also have assurance that all outbreak prevention and infection control measures are being followed in hospitals and at ports of entry.

 

We would like to assure our members that the Scheme is on high alert and will continue to monitor the situation. We will also constantly review and align our internal processes and procedures to ensure that members are supported and receive the care they need.