How to handle COVID-19. Guest Interview with Dr Chiara Sewnarain

How to handle COVID-19

As the Covid-19 numbers begin to spike all across the country many of us are anxious about what to do and how to handle life at the moment. It’s been emotionally taxing as well as stressful for many people. Some have seen their family members contract the disease, some are worried about the possibility of contracting it. That is why I’ve asked Dr Chiara Sewnarain for some practical advice on how to get through the Covid peak. She is a medical doctor working in the field of pediatrics in Gauteng and is currently working on the frontline to fight this virus. I, together with a few moms have put together some questions and she has shed some light. Lets take a look at what she had to say.


  1. I have just tested positive for COVID-19 and I would like to protect my family members. What can I do to prevent the spread within my home?


– Designate someone at home to be your “caregiver.” Everyone responds to the virus differently so you are not sure how sick you are going to be. This caregiver must be responsible for you and shouldn’t be someone who is at high risk for severe disease from Covid-19, i.e. shouldn’t be an elderly person, or someone who has co- morbidities. This person should be responsible for dealing with you directly.

– If possible, you should sleep in your own room without anyone else and use your own bathroom. This can be a dedicated “sick room” and everything you do whilst in your isolation period should be done in this room. This helps to limit the spread to other people in the household, if this is not possible, when using common areas such as a bathroom, ensure adequate ventilation such as keeping a window open. Ensuring ventilation ensures that the virus is being cleared away from the air. If you are able to, you should wash the area when you are done using household detergents or sanitizers. If you are too sick to wash the area, ensure that the person who is doing so wears a mask and gloves at all times.

– You should also try and eat separately from the rest of the family. Dishes that you use should be washed with hot water and soap and gloves should be used whilst doing this. Remember that your hands always need to be cleaned after this. Do not share utensils with anyone in your household.

– A mask should be worn by yourself and everyone else in your household during this period, especially when you are in common areas.

– High touch surfaces such as kitchen surfaces, door knobs, toilet handles etc should be regularly cleaned and disinfected.

– When washing and drying laundry- do not shake the laundry! Your laundry (as the positive person) can be washed with the laundry of other family members. The person doing this laundry should always be mindful to wear gloves when dealing with items of clothing and wash their hands after handling them.

– The most important thing about the other people living in the household is to TRACK THEIR OWN HEALTH- if they feel symptomatic at any point, it is important to seek medical attention.

  1. There is no need to immediately rush to the hospital at the sign of a positive test result, so when should we consider going to the hospital?

Dr S: You should consider going to the hospital when you have any of the following symptoms or signs; we deem these “warning signs” and everyone in the family should be familiar with them:

– Trouble breathing

– Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

– New confusion of any alteration in mental state

– Inability to wake up or to stay awake

– Bluish discoloration of the lips or face

  1. What is the seriousness of the impact it has on kids and what (if any) makes a child’s vulnerability to it different from an adults?

Dr S: The fact that this virus is a “novel” virus tells us that we don’t know enough about it because it has not been documented in causing disease previously. But from the studies we have read from other countries, it affects children in different ways. Some children who have underlying diseases such as Diabetes Mellitus, have been shown to have serious disease with COVID-19 whereas other children with no co- morbidities have had minor flu like symptoms. It’s therefore important to watch any child who is in contact with a positive person, if they have any symptoms, it is advised that medical attention is sought.

  1. If my kids are hospitalized will I be allowed to stay with them?

Dr S: This depends on the hospital’s policies. It also depends if you are seeking medical care privately or publicly. From what I’ve seen in the paediatric wards in a public setting, mums are allowed to visit but are not allowed to stay. This may vary in different facilities. We are always trying to ensure that the disease is passed to as few people as possible so visiting hours and the amount of people may also change during this period.

  1. I’ve heard that the fatigue is extreme during lockdown, as moms we have lots of tasks to complete, is there any way to counteract the fatigue?

Dr S: Keep a healthy immune system. Eat properly; eat lots of healthy fresh vegetables and fruit. Drink a lot of water and ensure you are adequately hydrated. Vitamin supplements are always great in boosting your immune system- vitamine C and zinc especially. Keep a healthy mindset and talk about how you are feeling- this is a difficult time for everyone and it’s important to talk about it.


  1. How long do the symptoms usually last?

Dr S: The symptoms have been shown to last from 5-14 days. This is dependent on each and every individual. Some people do not show any symptoms at all and some require a full 14 days to recover.


  1. Can I treat the symptoms with over the counter medication or must I visit a GP once confirmed?

Dr S: Over the counter medication can be used to treat the symptoms of COVID-19. Medical attention should be sought when any of the warning symptoms mentioned previously are experienced. It’s important to eat well, rest plenty and boost your immune system.

I hope that this has eased your pressure and equipped you with practical tips that you can use if the need arises. I’d like to thank Dr Chiara Sewnarain for taking time out of her busy schedule to help educate us.

Love and Bubbly Joy





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