Here’s what coronavirus means for Vitality members and going to the gym

With the recent outbreak of coronavirus 2019, and following the containment measures announced by president Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday, Discovery says it has faced numerous questions around whether Vitality members “should throw in the towel when it comes to working out at the gym”.

Good personal hygiene and social distancing can contain the spread of Covid-19. Take care and exercise safely, if you’re well, the group said. “Should you choose not to go to the gym during March and April, your Vitality gym discount for these months will not be impacted.”

Virgin Active, the largest gym chain in the country has stated that its gyms will remain open. Similarly, Planet Fitness has called for its customers to take proactive steps in practising good public hygiene at its facilities. Both partner with Discovery for Vitality points.


Your gym discount will not be impacted

Discovery said in a statement on Monday (16 March), that it will apply a special concession for the months of March and April 2020.

“The Vitality Gym Benefit requires members to do at least 36 gym workouts during any 12-month rolling period. When we look back at the end of March however you will only need to have done 30 workouts instead of the usual 36.

“We will do the same at the end of April, too. This means that Vitality members who go to gym regularly won’t have to worry about their gym benefit dropping for at least the next two months. We will continue to monitor the situation and will update you further as new information becomes available,” it said.


What is coronavirus 2019?

First, it’s important that we understand the difference between coronavirus 2019 and Covid-19. According to the World Health Organisation, the new coronavirus which first appeared in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 is a specific strain of coronaviruses which causes a respiratory illness known as Covid-19, Discovery said.

“The virus spread very quickly through coughing and sneezing, close personal contact, touching an object or surface where the virus can be found, and faecal contamination – although very rarely.”


How do you know if you have coronavirus 2019?

People who contract the new coronavirus may take anywhere from one to 14 days to develop symptoms. The most common symptoms are:

  • Fever;
  • Cough;
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

According to the World Health Organisation, in more than 80% of all reported cases, fever is the most typical symptom of the new coronavirus.

“If you feel ill and have any of the symptoms of the new coronavirus, seek medical care early and share your previous travel history with your healthcare provider,” said Dr Noluthando Nematswerani, Discovery Health’s head of the centre for clinical excellence.


Adopt 8 habits to stay healthy

It’s cliché but it’s true: prevention is better than cure, Discovery pointed out. It said that the WHO recommends the following eight simple, powerful habits that can protect you against coronaviruses, flu viruses and many other pathogens that are common in South Africa.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home if you are feeling sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with clothing, a flexed elbow or a tissue. Throw away the tissue immediately and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Follow World Health Organisation guidelines on wearing a face mask.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that you or others touch often, using a household cleaning spray. The virus can survive on common surfaces such as plastics, ceramics, glass and stainless steel for three days and longer.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products and do not eat the meat that comes from animals that have died of diseases.

Ask your gym how they’re keeping you safe

If you are worried about exercising with other people, contact your gym and ask them what measures they’ve put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus 2019, Discovery said.

Such measures could include:

  • Providing hand sanitiser;
  • Wiping down gym equipment;
  • Disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces;
  • Limiting contact between clients and trainers;
  • Creating more classes during off-peak gym times;
  • Creating virtual gym sessions;
  • Making sure trainers follow healthy hygiene practices, like washing their hands;
  • Asking clients and trainers to stay home if they feel sick.

Read: What the law says if you’re caught in a gathering of more than 100 people

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Here’s what coronavirus means for Vitality members and going to the gym