COVID-19 and the MOTH

The Moth is very aware of the COVID-19 epedemic and will provide its members with as much information as possible to help members take responsible decisions.  Circulars have been sent to all Moth Units and Moth Cottage schemes.

2020.03.16.  GHQCircular  2020-06

We are all no doubt aware the COVID-19 matter has been officially recognised by the World Health Organisation as a pandemic, and our President has recently declared a State of National Emergency.

The overriding message is, most importantly:- DON’T PANIC.

There are a number of precautions that we should all put into effect without delay, and these are included herein but, first, for your attention:

  • The MOTH Office will remain open.
  • Stores orders received by Provincial Dugouts will be placed on back-order. No stock will be expedited until at least after the Easter Weekend in April.
  • Warriors Gate has been closed until further notice.

Shellholes, Districts Dugouts and Provincial Dugouts should consider cancellation of any upcoming meetings, functions and memorial services but such decisions are at their own discretion. (The President has stated that gatherings over more than 100 people are banned for the time being). It is advisable to err on the side of Caution.

The published indictors of the illness include:
Identified respiratory symptoms, High Fever, a Dry Cough, Shortness of Breath and breathing difficulties. Severe cases may cause pneumonia or acute respiratory syndrome. A “runny” nose and associated sputum are indicators that one has a common cold and these signs are not associated with the Covid-19 virus.

Apparently, this virus is not heat-resistant and may be killed off by temperatures of 26°C and over. It is affected by the sun, so we should spend time outdoors and in the fresh air. Wash hands regularly and properly with soap and water, and use an alcohol-based hand- sanitiser.

Cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a large tissue or even the crook of one’s elbow.

Drink water (without ice). This will assist to wash away bacteria that might be in the throat, and the body will flush it away.
And, obviously, ty to avoid contact with persons who show symptoms.

The Department of Health ( has published a number of advisories on the matter, and there are two important numbers for all members to note:
HOT-LINE: 0800 029 999
WHATSAPP: “Hi” to 0600 123 456

We should all simply use our Common Sense with such matters, and proper Communication (without rumour or scandal) is essential.


1. Back ground information

There is so much information, much of it false, circulating about a new found virus that it is causing fear and panic. The new virus is part of a large family of coronaviruses. This group of viruses was first identified in the early 1960’s and consists of viruses that cause the common cold (this is why it appears on the label of the Dettol bottle). Most of the viruses in this group are not a threat to humans. These viruses are found in certain types of animals and have been transferred from the animals to humans. The coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic we are experiencing now is the third of the group of viruses that is causing more severe, and sometimes fatal pneumonia in the 21st century. The other 2 are:

  • SARS or the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) – Started in S China in 2002 and spread through about 24 countries. Ten percent of people who acquired the infection died. The source was thought to be from civet cats sold for food in live- animal markets. There have been no new cases since 2004.

MERS or the Middle East Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) – Started in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has spread though about 27 countries. Most of the cases (80%) are found in Saudi Arabia with a few pilgrims visiting the area getting the disease annually. The animal source of this virus is the Dromedary camel. In 2019 there were about 2500 cases of whom about 1/3 died.

The new coronavirus (COVID-19) was totally unknown 3 months ago. Its origin is believed to be a bat available at the live animal market in Wuhan, China. It is spread, like flu, through droplet infection when the infected person coughs or sneezes and also via contact with any surface contamination by respiratory droplets. It appears to spread more readily, like flu, than the other serious corona diseases mentioned. However it is not nearly as serious as the other two diseases mentioned above. As many as 80% of people not even aware that have been infected by the virus. The number of people dying from the disease is very small – between 2 and 3% and these people are those with other health conditions and the older person.

What we know about the virus is that the incubation period is about 14 days but infected people often start showing symptoms on day 4 or 5. The symptoms they present with is a fever, dry cough and difficulty breathing. It is important to note that people without symptoms will not be tested, as we need to save the substances for testing, for those that need them. The virus is sensitive to heat and can live outside the human body for a few hours. A vaccine is being developed but is not likely to be available for at least a year.

2. Planned response to the epidemic
Please note: All the interventions given below are based on international organisations such as the WHO, the CDC among others and the protocols and standards they propose up to the 7 March 2020. They are also aligned to the South African NICD and DOH recommendations

2.1 Personal protection

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands by washing them with soap and water. This is the best method to stop the spread of the virus! Use soap or hand wash but preferably the one without a lotion added. If hands appear clean please use a hand sanitizer or alcohol based wipes after you have been in contact with other people.

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the virus if the person coughing has the disease.
Masks as a preventative measure do not work well. The reasons they do not work are as follows:

  • The cheap variety, you may be able to buy, become moist very quickly after placing them over your nose and mouth and this allows the viruses to penetrate the mask more easily. In hospitals these masks are changed by staff after visiting each patient.
  • When a healthy person wears a mask in a public place the infectious organisms are “sucked” onto the outside of the mask and after a short period this surface will be covered with these organisms. If the person touches the outside of the mask his or her hands will become heavily contaminated and this will lead to an increased chance of becoming infected with the coronavirus or another infectious organism on the mask.

Leave the wearing of the masks to those who may or are infected with the virus to prevent them infecting others or to the health workers working with infected people.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Your hands touch many surfaces which may be contaminated with the virus which can then enter your body via your eyes, nose or mouth.

Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. This way you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention but please call your Dr in advance so that the Dr can make the necessary arrangements to protect the staff in the rooms.

Community protection

The following is proposed:

  • All toilets will have hand wash available and paper hand towels and buckets in which to dispose of these rather than the hand towels usually available.

2.2  All activities should continue as normally scheduled but will be reviewed from time to time as the epidemic develops in SA.

2.3 Flu vaccines

The annual flu takes its toll as is indicated in the report on the current flu season as it has been experienced in the N Hemisphere during their winter months.

The report on the 2019-2020 flu season in the N Hemisphere was released by the CDC on the 29th Feb 2020. (CDC: 29 Feb). There were 34 million flu illness, 350,000 hospitalisations, 29,000 deaths. This flu effected young adults and children mostly and this is in the northern hemisphere only. With the winter the flu season move to the southern hemisphere.

We strongly advise that you consider having this vaccine early this season to give you the immunity you need to protect you against this year’s flu.

It is going to be a bumpy year – we might have more cases of COVID 19 and the flu at the same time. All we can do is keep ourselves as healthy as possible and take preventative measures to protect ourselves from getting infected as much as is possible!