The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on 11th March 2020. SARS CoV-2 (a novel coronavirus) originated in Wuhan, China where the first cases were reported in late December 2019, and spread rapidly across the globe. The first case was diagnosed in South Africa on 5th March 2020 and by 27th March, more than 1000 people had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The rapidity of spread across the globe, has demonstrated unprecedented transmission, albeit of a mild disease in 80% of those who have tested positive for the virus. South Africa has a unique challenge of a large vulnerable immunocompromised population living in overcrowded conditions.
The Ministerial Advisory Committee on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (MAC-COVID 19) was formally established on the 25th March, with its first Clinical Committee meeting on the 26th March 2020. The Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) subgroup was charged with advising the Department of Health regarding evidence-based guidance towards the reduction and prevention of transmission in both patients and staff at community and healthcare facility level. These guidelines are aimed at health care facilities.