An influx of information exists around the COVID-19 or Coronavirus, and although we must be wary of fake news and myths, we also have to consider all possible precautions. If you have been on social media the past week, you surely have to agree that South Africans do have a way to optimistically look at life, even amidst an epidemic, but it is also critical that we take it seriously in order to prevent the spread.

“Although the majority of people who contract the virus will make a 100% recovery without even feeling very ill, we must be careful not to be blasé about the disease, thinking our bodies can fight it off, and putting the elderly or people with compromised immune systems who particularly vulnerable at risk” says Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Volkers Southern Africa.

Stopping the spread is relatively easy if we all play our part in its prevention, so remaining calm is crucial. Remember that it is not the worst disease that has hit us, but its spread is quite rapid and it could potentially become widespread in a short space of time. It is not an airborne virus, and by simply minimising social or physical interaction for a short period, we can stop the spread before it has really even began. We need this to be done as it not only affects the health of the nation, it can also have a significant impact on our economy, businesses and in the longer term could result in job losses if we don’t act now. 

“Every industry will face its own unique challenges in combating the virus whilst still remaining operational in order to secure jobs and sustain their business in the longer term. For us at Engel & Völkers we have instituted the following precautions in our network” Craig noted.

Meetings:

·         We know that it is especially important for new clients to meet their agent face-to-face before entrusting them with their property needs. We have the systems in place to allow for alternatives to person-to-person meetings such as conference calling, Google hangouts or face-time.

·         If we do meet – our agents will have taken every precaution to ensure that they are not contagious and will practice good social distancing and hygiene.

Pre-Screening: 

·         All clients will be pre-screened in terms of their recent travels and possible exposure to the virus to determine the likelihood of possible infections. 

·         Our agents have been educated and they know which questions to ask or symptoms to look for before conducting any business dealings. 

·         Clients will be asked to sign a declaration-form with the checklist of possible contamination factors.

Property Viewings: 

·         Smaller, private viewings instead of groups will be held by appointment only. Agents will be the front line between buyers and sellers – conducting viewings with only one party at a time and enforcing the prevention methods of social distancing, touching etc. This all eliminates the need for additional risk of exposure for buyers and sellers.

·         Sellers are now more than ever advised to consider Exclusive Mandates as it will control the number and way in which individuals are shown through the property.

·         No touching – Clients will be asked to sterilise their hands or to wear surgical gloves before going through a property without touching items in the house.

·         We have embraced the alternative to handshaking which the President has suggested – so please feel free to give our agents an elbow, or just a nod or wave – whichever you prefer.

·         We regularly provide virtual home tours and our agents can assist with remote video walk-through appointments. This ensures the continued marketing of client’s properties.

Remote offices:

·         Our agents are equipped with a full suite of tools constituting a virtual office so that they do not come into contact with more possible contamination sources than what is required.

·         Our staff are being isolated from others as far as is possible, to ensure that they are healthy for their clients. Although you or your family might not have travelled, you can never be certain about the person next to you in the shop, or a colleague who might have been in contact with someone who might just be a carrier and not actually be sick.

“We truly put our clients before business and have taken extreme steps to ensuring your health comes first” Craig concluded.

A QUICK RECAP ON THE LATEST NEWS 

·         Travel – All non-essential international and local travel should be avoided and travellers from high risk countries will not be allowed to enter the country.

·         Public – Public gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited.

·         Schools – Schools will be closed from 18 March 2020.

·         Testing – All of those who have visited high risk countries in the past 14 days are requested to test for the virus.

·         Isolation – Self isolation is suggested for anyone who is not critically ill but presents with mild symptoms.

·         Prevention – Please follow prevention suggestions and keep contact with others to a minimum.

MYTHS UNCOVERED:

There is a lot of false information currently going around.

·         BATH: Taking a hot bath does not prevent COVID-19

·         GARLIC: Eating garlic does not prevent COVID-19

·         SPRAY: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill COVID-19

·         DRYERS: Hand dryers are not effective in killing COVID-19

·         MOSQUITO: COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites

·         NOSE: Regularly rinsing your nose with saline won’t help prevent infection  

·         COLD: Cold weather and snow Cannot kill COVID-19

·         GOODS: COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through goods manufactured in China or any country reporting COVID-19 cases

·         UV: An ultraviolet disinfection lamp cannot kill COVID-19

·         SCAN: Thermal scanners cannot detect people infected with COVID-19

·         PETS: Pets at home cannot spread the COVID-19

·         VACCINES: Vaccines against pneumonia will not protect you against the COVID-19

·         ANTIBIOTICS/ MEDICINES: Antibiotics/ Medicines are not effective in preventing the COVID-19

PREVENTION:

·         Wash your hands frequently

·         Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

·         Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and throw it away after use

·         Avoid close contact with infected people

·         Boost your immune system

SYMPTOMS:

·         A cough

·         A fever

·         Shortness of breath

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

It’s very unlikely to be COVID-19 if:

·         You have not been in close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19

·         You have not been to a country or area with a high risk of COVID-19 in the last 14 days such as China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and others.

Issued by Chantalle Bell, Marketing & Content Liaison – ENGEL & VÖLKERS

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