COVID-19 issues

 

TOPICS

Social distancing

Social isolation and Downloading video-conferencing software

Importance of social distancing in the community

Wearing face masks to reduce community transmission

Decisions about immunotherapy in 2020

Online COVID-19 resources

-Australian Government

Australian Capital Territory

-ASCIA

-EAACI

-NEJM

-The Lancet

-ABC Radio Coronacast


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SOCIAL DISTANCING IN OUR CONSULTING ROOMS
In order to minimise the risk of transmission of ANY infectious disease and protect our staff and other patients, we ask all patients and carers to cooperate with the following:


IF YOU ARE SICK

If you have a fever, flu-like symptoms or respiratory illness or have recently returned from overseas or visited a known “hot-spot” of infection in the last few weeks, DO NOT ENTER our rooms.

Postpone your appointment until you are well. Our wait list is not too long if you do so. For our rural patients, we may be able to undertake Telehealth for selected conditions. If in doubt call us for advice.


ONE PATIENT, ONE SUPPORT PERSON ONLY

Given the amount of physical space we have available and duration of most of our appointments, we need to minimise the number of people in our rooms at any one time. Please do not bring the extended family. If you are an adult patient (defined as 18+ years), please come alone. Only essential support people are allowed to stay (eg. need a translator or the patient is very elderly). Don’t bring other children. If a child is the patient, bring that child alone and one parent/carer only. Other interested parties can always listen in on a speaker on their smartphone in their car if needed. We don’t allow others to wait in our waiting room for the same reasons as above; the amount of physical space we have. We do NOT anticipate any relation of these social distancing measures before the end of winter and will remain in place until the threat of COVID-19 subsides.


We have reduced the number of waiting room chairs in our rooms and spaced these further apart and removed toys and magazines as it is not possible to easily clean these. If lots of people from the same family arrive, the extras will be asked to leave.

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SOCIAL ISOLATION and Downloading video-conferencing software

If you find it hard to do so, ask a friend, relative or grandchild, establish a free account and practice! You are likely to find this very useful for social reasons. Examples include:

ZOOM works on PCs, Macs and Smartphones and iPads. If you find it hard to do so, ask a friend, relative or grandchild, establish a free account and practice! See https://www.zoom.us/pricing to download the programme and establish a free or paid account. Keep the version you use updated to optimise security and if you hold meetings, make sure you issue a password plus invitation to keep the meeting secure.


SKYPE is another popular and useful programme. Skype has recently introduced a way to do conference calls via a web browser without even having to download the Skype programme or have a Skype account. See https://www.skype.com/en/free-conference-call/ For more information about this feature see https://www.techradar.com/au/news/skype-introduces-video-meetings-with-no-sign-up-needed-for-those-wanting-a-zoom-alternative Otherwise the traditional way to download the Skype app and establish and use an account can be found at:

https://www.skype.com/en/get-skype/


Please note that for our Telehealth consultations, we do not use the above software but rather encrypted Australian platforms designed for TeleHealth (Coviu).


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Importance of social distancing and isolation: see ABC news link 25 March 2020:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-25/coronavirus-covid-19-modelling-stay-home-chart/12084144


Wearing face masks to reduce community transmission

When Coronavirus infection rates were low but personal protective equipment was in short supply, reserving available supplies for health personnel was essential, as high rates of infection and deaths have occurred in health care personnel worldwide caring for those with Coronavirus infection. By contrast, community transmission rates in Australia were relatively low and so the benefit from wearing masks was very low and risked wasting essential supplies.











But now things are changing. With higher rates of infection occurring in the community that cannot always be traced back to returning overseas travellers, and with a variable proportion of infected individuals having no symptoms yet still being able to transmit infection to others, the wearing of well fitting facial masks to cover the nose and mouth can (a) reduce the chance that an infected person will pass it on to another person, and (b) reduce the risk that the wearer will get infection from another person.  A combination of small case series and studies of the risk of transmitting infection and the likelihood that viral infection may be carried in very fine airborne particles (and not just large saliva particles that fall to the ground quickly) have prompted recommendations to wear masks in public hot spot areas of Australia, especially when crowding is difficult to avoid (eg. public transport).


References

ABC NEWS LINK

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-27/which-face-mask-works-best-filmed-people-sneezing-coughing/12494174

THORAX ARTICLE ON MASKS AS AEROSOL BARRIERS

https://thorax.bmj.com/content/early/2020/07/24/thoraxjnl-2020-215748

JOURNAL ARTICLES

Sunjaya AP, Jenkins C. Rationale for universal face masks in public against COVID-19. Respirology. 2020 Jul;25(7):678-679. doi: 10.1111/resp.13834.


Esposito S, Principi N, Leung CC, Migliori GB. Universal use of face masks for success against COVID-19: evidence and implications for prevention policies. Eur Respir J. 2020 Jun 18;55(6):2001260. doi: 10.1183/13993003.01260-2020.


Feng S, Shen C, Xia N, Song W, Fan M, Cowling BJ. Rational use of face masks in the COVID-19 pandemic. Lancet Respir Med. 2020 May;8(5):434-436. doi: 10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30134-X.

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IMMUNOTHERAPY IN 2020

Updated information on immunotherapy can be found here. Given that 2020 is predicted to be a wet year weather-wise, that is likely to translate into a high pollen load and bad hay fever season later in the year. If medication is not usually effective and you get bad pollen hay fever or asthma, you are best to NOT delay decisions regarding immunotherapy.


TREAT YOUR ALLERGIES

There is no reason to put off treating allergic disease in 2020 and treating your hay fever also makes it less likely that you will be constantly touching your nose and eyes, known to be associated with a higher risk of spread of infection. So even if you have no interest in immunotherapy to switch off allergy, at least takes medicines to control your symptoms.


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COVID-19 Resources

Australian Government information: https://www.australia.gov.au


Australian Capital Territory Statistics: https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiZTY4NTI1NzQtYTBhYy00ZTY4LTk3NmQtYjBjNzdiOGMzZjM3IiwidCI6ImI0NmMxOTA4LTAzMzQtNDIzNi1iOTc4LTU4NWVlODhlNDE5OSJ9


Australasian Society for Clinical Immunology and Allergy: https://www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19


Hand washing and eczema skin care: https://nationaleczema.org/ate-covid-19/


European Academy of Allergy Asthma Immunology: https://www.eaaci.org/science/covid-19-resource-centre/articles.html


New England Journal of Medicine: https://www.nejm.org/coronavirus


The Lancet: https://www.thelancet.com/coronavirus


ABC Radio Coronacast: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/coronacast/latest-segments/12025304


And download the COVIDSafe app to your smartphone: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covidsafe-app


Other

It is important to be aware that soap and high strength alcohol is recommended for cleaning hands and potentially contaminated surfaces to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. A lot of available antiseptic wipes contain benzylkonium chloride. While this has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, this chemical can also cause contact allergic dermatitis, so avoid these products if you have known allergy to it and suspect contact allergy is you start getting hand dermatitis with use.

Last reviewed  27 July 2020

This page will be updated regularly