Coronavirus lockdown in SA: What does this mean for KeyHealth?

As a business engaged in healthcare, KeyHealth is fully supportive of government’s decision to enforce a 21-day lockdown period from midnight on 26 March 2020. Considering the global spread of the pandemic, we believe this is the correct measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 and to safeguard the health of our country’s citizens.

In anticipation of President Ramaphosa’s address on Monday, 23 March, we prepared and implemented contingency plans to ensure that all our critical business functions continue with minimum interruptions. We will do all we can to ensure continued service delivery to our members.

The following is an extract from an article published by IOL on 23 March:

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday announced a countrywide lockdown, part of which is that only certain categories of businesses can remain open. These businesses are:

"Pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and healthcare providers. Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open. A full list of the categories of businesses that should remain open, will be published.
All other shops and businesses will be closed.

The list stipulates the essential services that will be maintained during the lockdown.

    1. Electricity – stable power supply with no load-shedding.
    2. Water supply, sewerage and sanitation.
    3. ICT – datacentres, fibre optic infrastructure, towers and antennae.
    1. Food and essential products – related manufacturing and processing, and distribution.
      In order to ensure that people remain well-nourished and apply high personal hygiene to combat the spread of COVID-19, the following operations will continue:
      1. Manufacturing of health-related products, supplies, devices, equipment, and medicines, including complementary health products; food and essential products, as well as essential inputs thereto.
      2. Agricultural and food supply related operations, including farming, veterinary and phytosanitary provider services, pest control services, and chemical and fertilizer providers.
      3. Fishing operations.
      4. Forestry and sawmills will remain in production for disposable health and hygiene products, including toilet paper; as well as for the production of packaging for essential health and food supply chains.
      5. Food, beverages and essential products manufacturing and processing facilities.
      6. Warehousing, transport and logistics for food and essential products, and health-related goods.
      7. The ports, road and rail networks will remain open in order to facilitate the import and export of essential products.
      8. Food outlets – retail, wholesale, spaza shops and malls for food and essential products.
      Essential products including toilet paper, cleaners, sanitisers and disinfectants, personal hygiene products, bedding and clothing, and essential supplies for those taking care of the sick and for people to remain healthy.
    2. Enabling services
      To assist in the COVID-19 response, the following services are required to continue operations:
      1. All healthcare-related services be they public or private.
      2. Call centres providing life and health; energy, food and water supply, social, transactional, communications, law and order and international critical business continuity services.
      3. Professional and artisan services, to the extent that they are providing support in the COVID-19 response, essential and critical business continuity services.
      4. Cleaning, laundry and hospitality services supporting the COVID-19 response and essential and critical business continuity services.
      5. Hotels, airlines, stadiums, car rental services, to the extent that they are supporting essential or critical business continuity services and repurposing for essential services.
      6. Financial and insurance services and health funders required to finance and support essential and critical business continuity services in the COVID-19 response and provide short-term bridging finance to people and businesses during this period.
      7. Anti-poaching and wildlife conservation services.
      8. Communication and media services on screen, TV, radio, print, broadcast and online.
      9. Safety and security services protecting people and property.
    3. Work from home
      The government encourages people to continue to remain productive and work from home. However, this must be on the basis that it does not require contact with people not residing in the home, and it does not interfere in any manner with the COVID-19 response.

According to the statement, other than the listed services/industries, businesses will need to shut down during the lockdown.

Health funders, like KeyHealth, are classified as an essential service. However, companies were requested to, where possible, instruct their staff to work from home. This will help to curb the spread of the virus and lessen the impact on the health sector.

KeyHealth and PPSHA (our administrator) will comply with this request, while working to ensure continued service delivery to our members. Take note of the following important information regarding service delivery during the lockdown period:

  1. The KeyHealth Client Service Call Centre (0860 671 050) will be operational from Monday to Friday from 07:30 – 18:00. During the lockdown period, the call centre will not be operational on Saturdays. As many of our call centre agents will be working from home, we have put measures in place to ensure uninterrupted service delivery. However, we will require your patience in the event of technical difficulties.
    Our members can contact the Client Service Department via e-mail (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Chat to us in real-time using the Online Chat facility that is available from Monday to Friday from 07:30 – 18:00 on our website (
  2. The Hospital Pre-authorisation Call Centre (0860 671 060) will also be operational from Monday to Friday from 07:30 – 18:00. During this lockdown period the Hospital Pre-authorisation Call Centre will not be operational on Saturdays. As many of our call centre agents will be working from home, we have put measures in place to ensure uninterrupted service delivery. However, we will require your patience in the event of technical difficulties.
  3. All walk-in offices have been closed until further notice. Kindly contact us using the methods described above.
  4. We will continue processing all service providers’ and members’ claims during this time. Send all claims to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or via the KeyHealth mobi app. Claims sent via postal service will only be processed after the lockdown.
  5. Consult your 2020 Member Guide (insert link here) for a complete list of important contact information. Members will be able to contact our service providers (DENIS, MediKredit, OptiClear, etc.) during this time.
  6. Download your KeyHealth membership card from the KeyHealth mobi app here:

Over the past few days, KeyHealth has received numerous requests from members for the early supply and/or the extended supply of medication. MediKredit, who manages the pharmacy benefits of KeyHealth members, has assured us that there is an adequate supply of medication in the country and that there is no need for patients to stockpile medicine. The pharmaceutical industry role-players have agreed that only 30 days’ supply of medication will be granted. In exceptional cases, the request for an extended supply of medication will be considered in terms of the Rules of Medical Schemes.

It is important to note that all pharmacies will be open during the lockdown period. Most retail pharmacies offer a delivery service should you not want to leave home. The pharmacies have assured us that they have implemented the necessary protocols to cater for safe and efficient delivery of medication to members under these circumstances.

These are challenging times we live in and there is a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds for us all. You can rest assured that as your medical scheme, we have your best interests at heart and are committed to doing everything in our power to maintain “business as usual” as far as possible.

During this time, we will keep our members updated on all matters concerning COVID-19. Let us continue to act responsibly and take the necessary precautions to stay healthy and safe. And remember, be smart and keep it simple!

Last updated at: Thursday, 26 March 2020 12:06 PM

Know the facts about COVID-19

The Health Department confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in South Africa on 5 March 2020 and announced that the first patient was well enough to go home after just three days of being quarantined. Since the news broke, there have been 61 confirmed cases. President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national disaster on Sunday via a special address to the nation. In his speech he included travel bans from high-risk countries and advised that schools will close on 18 March until after the Easter holidays.

In response to the news, we at KeyHealth want to inform you, our member, how we will deal with this issue from a benefit perspective to provide you with peace of mind in this regard. Proper protocols are required to adequately deal with a pandemic like this and therefore we would like to inform you of what we have put in place to provide clarity.

If you believe that you may be at risk, you should consult with your General Practitioner (GP) immediately and isolate yourself and people living with you especially if you have recently returned from areas where cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed. Should you be referred by your GP as a candidate for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and you test positive, KeyHealth will fund the diagnostic testing from the Scheme’s risk benefit pool. Your GP will then advise you on the steps going forward and whether you need to be quarantined or hospitalised. It’s important to note, COVID-19 testing confirmed as negative will be funded from available savings and/or day-to-day benefits according to your specific benefit option. Diagnosis and management of uncomplicated COVID-19 infection is not included in the Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMBs). In cases of uncomplicated COVID-19 infection where there are no PMB-eligible conditions, the Scheme will fund all health care costs as per the benefit allocation on your specific benefit option in terms of the Scheme Rules.

In cases where complications arise as a direct result of a COVID-19 infection, the treatment of these complications will be covered by the Scheme either by the normal benefits available to members on their specific benefit option or in terms of the PMBs.

We would  like to remind members that all our options include additional Health Booster benefits, on which a standard flu vaccination is available to all beneficiaries from the preventative care benefit. The overlap of the arrival of COVID-19 in South Africa with the seasonal influenza makes it more important to receive the flu vaccine during the specific flu season. Having a flu vaccination can build up your immunity against the strain of flu virus you’re vaccinated against and will not lower your immunity.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, global authorities, including World Health Organization (WHO) and the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) recommends the good practice of hand hygiene (handwashing with soap and water) and cough etiquette.

We will continue to convey accurate information as and when necessary to promote a better understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last updated at: Thursday, 16 March 2020 13:15 PM