The World Health Organization (WHO) was alerted of a cluster of pneumonia of unknown aetiology in patients in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China on 31 December 2019.

The respiratory tract infection was identified as being caused by a coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the illness was named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on 11 February 2020. The following month, the WHO declared the outbreak as a pandemic and on 15 March 2020, a National State of Disaster was declared in South Africa.

The National Department of Health, in collaboration with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), has been providing the nation with guidance in respect of the management of the COVID 19 pandemic within the Republic of South Africa. The Minister of health has approved a submission from the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) for the inclusion of COVID19 as a Prescribed Minimum Benefit (PMB). The CMS has lodged a draft amendment to the PMB regulations with the minister of health for the promulgation of COVID 19 into the PMB regulations in terms of section 67 (3) (b) to enable COVID 19 form part of the Prescribed Minimum Benefit (PMB) package. As this in the interest of the public, it is being done on an urgent basis.

As such, this document seeks to clarify the PMB entitlements of beneficiaries within the context of the pandemic and to ensure that there is uniform interpretation amongst all stakeholders. The document is a recommendation for the screening, diagnosis, treatment and care of individuals with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 as per WHO case definitions. Identification of suspected cases is provided for later in the document.

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