With news of Coronavirus dominating news cycles, Facebook feeds and coffee shop conversation, you might be worried about what Coronavirus means for you, especially if you have cancer or are a cancer survivor.
People with cancer, or those whose immune systems are compromised, face a greater risk from Coronavirus than the general population. To keep you safe, we’ve put together everything that you need to know about the virus, how it spreads, what your risk might be, how to isolate yourself if necessary and when to seek medical help.
What is Coronavirus/COVID-19?
Coronavirus is a new virus that originated in Hubei Province, China and can make humans and animals sick. It generally causes illnesses similar to a common cold, with symptoms ranging from a mild cough to fever and pneumonia.
Many people who are infected with the virus show very mild to no symptoms, while others experience more severe symptoms and can become ill quickly.
How does this virus spread?
The virus spreads from person to person, through contact with the cough or sneeze of an infected person and by touching infected objects and surfaces, and then touching your face.
What can I do to avoid contracting Coronavirus?
One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from the virus is to avoid places where exposure is most likely. This includes staying away from public places when possible and limiting travel, both domestically and international
Unfortunately, there’s no evidence to suggest that wearing a mask will protect you from contracting COVID-19. Wearing a mask will only prevent a sick person from spreading the virus further. But there are some simple measures you can take to prevent infection, including regularly washing your hands with soap and using hand sanitiser when you are unable to do so. When washing, don’t forget to wash the backs of your hands, in between your fingers and underneath the nail. Make sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
You can also protect yourself by avoiding close contact with others and limiting touching.
Why is the risk higher for cancer patients?
People with cancer are at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19 then others as their immune system is compromised. This risk also applies to cancer survivors, as the effects of cancer treatment are generally on-going, even after the treatment itself is finished.
Keeping your immune system strong and taking preventative measures can help you avoid becoming ill from Coronavirus. It’s even more important for immune-suppressed people to avoid public places and contact with others, and to maintain optimal hygiene.
If you are concerned about your risk of developing the virus and believe your immunity is compromised due to your own cancer experience it’s best to speak directly to your medical team to implement a plan to best manage your risk.
Other groups that are at a higher risk of becoming very ill from the virus are individuals over 70, people with underlying health conditions, chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and
How can I isolate myself if I think I have COVID-19?
If you tested positive for Coronavirus or have symptoms and are waiting to find out the results, you will need to isolate yourself for 14 days. Click here for more information from the Australian government on self-isolation.
You should avoid public places and anywhere that causes you to come into contact with others. The Department of Health advices that if you need to go out into public, you should wear a mask to decrease the risk of spreading the virus to others.
When to seek medical help
If you think that you might have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19 or if you develop symptoms, such as a fever and cough, you should isolate yourself and seek medical attention
If you are feeling sick and urgently need to see your doctor, make sure to wear a mask to reduce the risk of sharing the virus with others. If you have cancer or are recovering from cancer treatments, make sure to discuss ways of reducing your own risk with your doctor.
Stay up-to-date on the latest information from the Australian Government here.