There are 4 stages of spread of COVID19.
Stage1: Imported Travel
In this stage, people who return after travelling to an area where they contracted COVID19 and are diagnosed as having the infection. In this stage, travel history is important and it can be established where the infection was imported from.
Stage 2: Local Transmission
In this stage, the close contacts of the infected person become infected. In this stage, we can still trace the origin of the disease and contacts can be tested, quarantined/ isolated and treated. Travel history is important in this stage, as is contact with a person who has travelled.
Stage 3: Community Spread
In this stage, the disease becomes more widespread and the origin of the infection becomes more and more difficult to trace. In this stage, travel history and contact with people who have travelled plays less of a role as the disease can be transmitted from person to person as we interact with each other. It is in this stage that social distancing and lockdowns become important.
On Monday 23 March, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would begin a nationwide lockdown on midnight 26th March. This decision was taken in order to reduce the spread of the disease with the aim of avoiding overwhelming the healthcare system.
As a healthcare professional, this bold and unprecedented decision was highly appreciated. In this video I share my reaction to the lockdown announcement.
Stage 4: Epidemic
In this stage the disease burden becomes overwhelming and the healthcare system becomes inundated with cases of ill patients requiring care. In addition, the death toll increases as the disease becomes increasingly difficult to control. We have seen this play out in Italy, Iran and Spain to name a few.
The decision to call for a nationwide lockdown was an incredibly difficult one. But I applaud the leadership of this country for taking decisive action to curb the spread of COVID19 in SA.