While statistically speaking, the risk of significant complications as a result of the novel coronavirus remain relatively low for the general population, those with a weakened immunity, such as those with a cancer diagnosis need to take extra care.
We have pulled together the most frequently asked questions to help you stay protected.
The best source for the latest up-to-date information on COVID-19 is https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
As a cancer patient, am I more likely to get sick from COVID-19?
There are a wide range of symptoms for people suffering COVID-19 which range from no symptoms through to severe pneumonia.
It is possible that cancer patients are at an increased risk of developing more severe symptoms as a result of their lowered immune system. This is a direct result of their medications and treatments. In order to avoid infection, you should:
- Avoid crowded public places where possible
- Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water, for a minimum of 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your face
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing with a disposable tissue
- Avoid seeing other who are not well
- Speak to your healthcare team should you begin to show any cold-like symptoms or be at all concerned about your health and wellbeing
How can I avoid getting sick with COVID-19?
The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is similar to the way you would avoid a cold or other illness. The most important thing you can do to prevent any illness is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.
Washing your hands properly means using soap and water and washing for at least 20 seconds. While hand sanitiser is also a really great on-the-go back-up, soap and water is the best option to reduce the spread of germs and wash away any debris build up that occurs throughout the day.
If you have to cough or sneeze, try to catch it with a disposable tissue that you can put in the rubbish immediately. If you’ve not got a tissue handy the next best thing is your sleeve.
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Will wearing a face mask protect me from getting infected?
According to numerous medical experts, if you healthy, wearing a face mask is not recommended. The most important way to protect yourself – regardless of whether you are undergoing cancer treatment or not – is to wash your hands properly and avoid touching your face. Masks should only be used if you are sick to assist in preventing the transition to others.
Should I still attend my doctor’s appointments?
It is incredibly important to continue your cancer care, and attending appointments is an essential part of this. If you are at all concerned about becoming infected and its impact upon your care, it is best to liaise directly with your medical team to put a personal care plan in place.
Please contact your doctor immediately if you:
- You have recently travelled or are under public health requirement to self-isolate for 14 days
- You’re not feeling well with cold or flu-like symptoms
- Have a fever over 38 degrees Celsius
Should I change my travel plans in the next few months because of COVID-19?
The Australian Government currently recommends that people with underlying health conditions who may be at higher risk of severe illness or complications should not travel during this time.
If you are still considering traveling, check your travel medical insurance coverage regarding restrictions, and follow the advice and advisories of the Australian Government. Information can be found on the Smart Traveller Government Website. https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/news-and-updates/coronavirus-covid-19
Where can I get more information?
You can find more trustworthy information about COVID-19 by visiting the Australian Government dedicated Health Website. https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert