As Australian state borders open slowly and we prepare for the holidays and look forward to a new year with renewed hope that a vaccine will be available in 2021, it is perhaps time to understand a little more about the corona virus and COVID 19 and what we should all do to prevent it returning.
The coronavirus family is known to cause a range of respiratory illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe illnesses like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
COVID-19 is the name that has been given to this particular outbreak of coronavirus that is thought to have originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The name COVID-19 is derived from COronaVIrus Disease 2019.
So what should we know about how this virus can be spread?
When an infected person sneezes or exhales droplets are released into the immediate surrounding area. These droplets may land directly on the mouth, nose or eyes of another person or onto surrounding surfaces such as door handles and benches. The virus can then be transmitted when someone touches these areas and then touches their nose, eyes or mouth. It is known that the virus can remain ‘live’ on surfaces. How long it survives varies, depending on the material the surface is made from.
It is therefore very important that if you develop symptoms you tell your GP of treating doctors.
What are the common symptoms?
- Dry cough
These symptoms may also include
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Nausea and vomiting
- Aches and pains
- Red or irritated eyes
- Loss of taste and/or smell
- Skin rash or discolouration
Rarely, people may develop:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain or pressure
- Loss of speech
- Loss of movement
If you develop any of the symptoms in red call 000 immediately.
It is possible to contract coronavirus and not experience any symptoms. 80% of people with coronavirus will recover without needing any intervention. However, those that are most at risk of becoming very ill are the elderly and people with an underlying medical condition such as lung and heart disease. People whose immune system is already compromised are also at risk, including patients with amyloidosis. The risk will vary according to their underlying disease severity and current medications.
How can we all help prevent infections like coronavirus (COVID-19)
It is important to mention that while we are all feeling a little more relaxed at the moment with the current outbreaks under control, those living with amyloidosis should always be actively taking measures to prevent infections.
It may not be necessary to wear a face mask. Those that have symptoms of respiratory illness or are in the presence of someone with a respiratory illness and health care workers caring for those infected need to take this measure.
* Please note: There are varying degrees of restrictions around the country, which often change. For instructions about what is required in your area, especially in relationship to wearing a mask, please follow the advice of the Chief Health Officer in your state. See the federal government web site www.australia.gov.au
Strategies to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19:
- Stay home as much as possible without isolating yourself completely unless told to do so.
- If it is necessary to go out practice social distancing. This means remaining at least 1.5 metres away from anyone who is not from your immediate household.
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand gels.
- Maintain excellent food hygiene.
- Regularly and thoroughly clean commonly used items such as mobile phones, TV remotes and door/drawer handles.
- If being in the company of someone with a visible respiratory illness is unavoidable, try to remain at least 1.5 meters away from them to avoid droplet exposure and consider wearing a mask.
- Have an annual flu vaccination and any other vaccines recommended by the doctor (note: the flu vaccine will NOT directly protect from coronavirus). Encourage family and friends to do the same.
Looking after your whole self
In these uncertain and often worrying times it is important to pay extra attention to both your physical and mental well-being. Some people find it helpful to set a daily agenda being conscious of dedicating time to:
- Exercising outside (maintaining 1.5m from anyone from outside your household)
- Drinking adequate fluid, especially in the Australian summer.
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Contacting loved ones via phone or video conferencing
- Participating in mindfulness activities such as meditation or yoga. There are excellent videos on You Tube and apps to help with mindfulness activities.
Some of you may have experienced changes to clinic appointments and to some of your treatments. This can be confusing and upsetting. Your treatment team is there to answer any queries you may have and to refer you to a health professional who may be able to help with other needs.