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Is Conjunctivitis linked to COVID-19?

Affinity Health – leading providers of affordable medical insurance in SA – consider whether coronavirus might cause pink eye.


How does Pink Eye indicate COVID-19?

According to research, the answer is: unlikely, but not impossible.


‘Pink Eye’ is a common name for conjunctivitis, a condition that is indicated by an acute inflammation of the eye. It happens when the white parts of your eyes and the inside of your eyelids become red, itchy and swollen. It usually means that your eye has been infected by chemical irritants and allergens spread through the air.


According to disease experts, CDC, viruses are the most common cause of conjunctivitis. It’s therefore not surprising that COVID-19, a novel coronavirus strain, could lead to symptoms similar to conjunctivitis.


WebMD doctors, however, believe that only a small percentage of people with people (1%-3%) with COVID-19 will experience conjunctivitis.


“According to current data, conjunctivitis doesn’t appear to be a stand-alone symptom of COVID-19,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health. “Just because someone has pink eye, it doesn’t mean they’re infected with the coronavirus.”


Although most cases of conjunctivitis can be treated with over-the-counter eye ointments to relieve symptoms within a week or two, one should watch out for any other signs of illness that could indicate something more sinister.


If you have any symptoms of a new cough, fever, or shortness of breath, Hewlett advises you to call your health care provider to discuss whether you should be tested for COVID-19.


The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing up slime (producing sputum in the lungs)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Nasal congestion
  • Muscle or joint ache or pain
  • Body chills
  • Loss of taste or smell


It’s essential to remember that these signs and symptoms are usually mild, and the majority of people (roughly 80%) recover from the disease without requiring any special treatment.


However, around one out of every six people infected with COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and has trouble breathing. People over the age of 65, as well as those with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes, are more likely to develop severe illness.


Because the coronavirus typically spreads via tiny water droplets that a person with the virus produces when they talk, cough, or sneeze, it remains critically important that we all continue to follow the guidelines put in place to keep ourselves and others safe.


The South African government recommends the following COVID-19 preventative measures:

  • Keep your hands germ-free by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water is unavailable
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Avoid people who have the coronavirus or have been in contact with someone who has
  • Practice social distancing by keeping at least one metre from other people
  • Avoid crowded areas and staying at home as much as possible
  • Always cover your mouth and nose with a proper-fitting face mask in public


“Those who have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as those who have been exposed to the virus, should self-isolate for 14 days,” adds Murray. “If someone with COVID-19 is having trouble breathing or has other concerning symptoms, they should seek medical help.”


Read More on Affinity Health’s COVID-19 Support Page


About Affinity Health

Affinity Health aims to provide premier quality, affordable medical insurance to South Africans. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service when they are faced with injury or illness. We work to deliver innovative solutions that are simple, cost-effective, and proven, so our cover is structured to ensure that you get exactly what you need. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

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