450 doctors available for free consultations on Covid-19 hotline

The Covid-19 spike protein (S) contains a cleavage site, a molecular can opener that allows the virus to crack open and enter host cells.
The Covid-19 spike protein (S) contains a cleavage site, a molecular can opener that allows the virus to crack open and enter host cells.
Image: virology.ws

More than 450 medical doctors across the country have voluntarily committed to a national medical support hotline as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in SA passes the 1,300 mark.

Callers will need to pay the normal cost of a telephone call, but will not pay to talk to the doctor. Their data will be collated and reported to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD). 

The Doctors on Call hotline is an initiative of the KwaZulu-Natal Doctors Healthcare Coalition, Usizo Advisory Solutions and Vula, supported by Nedbank.

“Defeating this pandemic will require unprecedented support from all stakeholders in South Africa, both public and private,” said Prof Morgan Chetty, head of the KwaZulu-Natal doctors' coalition and a member of a task team working with the government to co-ordinate a response to the pandemic.

“Support for this programme could help flatten the curve, save our health system from being overwhelmed, protect our economy and ultimately save lives,” said project leader Dr Anuschka Coovadia.

Doctors on Call offers a Covid-19 medical helpline established to provide support and immediate advice to concerned callers. The service operates on weekdays from 8am to  5pm and is manned by a dedicated unit of doctors.

“Administered by a call centre, all phone calls are received by a trained call centre agent, screened and then routed for a telephonic consultation with a doctor for advice related to Covid-19,” said Coovadia.

The calls will be documented and reported using the Vula app, designed by Dr William Mapham.

Referrals are made to the NICD for testing and results are captured on the Vula app.

“This data collection is vital in tracking both the spread of virus and particular outbreak areas,” the organisation said.

The hotline number is 087 0550 234.

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