We acknowledge that everyone is worried about corona. What is it and what do we know about it? Covid-19 is a newly emerged virus from the corona family that has been spreading in some parts of Asia and more recently in Europe with a few mostly imported cases being documented in cities in the USA the Caribbean (two cases confirmed in Jamaica) and has been declared a pandemic by the WHO.
It causes flu-like symptoms that in some cases (less than 5 %) have resulted in respiratory (lung) complications that in some cases have been fatal. However, it has been noted that a greater proportion of the more severe cases have been in older persons and those with chronic conditions including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or respiratory diseases.
While we do not know if any lupus patients have been affected, we know generally that persons with lupus are more vulnerable to infections due to the disease itself and well as some of the medications used to control it.
What should you do?
a) Avoid Infection
Make every precaution to avoid infection:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (palm, between fingers and back of hand for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay home when you are sick.
- Sensitise your household members and co-workers about the above as this will also help to reduce your risk of infection.
- Travel internationally only when necessary and with proper assessment of the risk in the area and with the appropriate precautions. Be advised by your doctor. If booking some time forward, take out travel insurance in case you need to reschedule.
Managing Lupus Medications during Covid-19
It is important to know how to manage your meds.
- Do not stop your medications because you are worried about getting coronavirus. Being on steroids and medicines known as "immunosuppressives" like azathioprine (imuran, Azoran) or mycophenylate mofetil (cellcept) can lower your body's defenses to viruses. On the other hand having a flare of your lupus disease also lowers the defenses, with persons with lupus having the highest risk of infection and succombing to infection, during a flare. So stopping these medicines may not help your situation. Also you might end up needing even higher doses of medicines including steroids to get back under control.
- On the other hand, should you develop an infection or suspected infection, some of your medications may need to be adjusted or stopped. Your doctor will need to advise you and closely monitor your lupus in this case.
- Take hydroxychloroquine even if you are sick. Hydroxychloroquine is one of the medications recommended for lupus patients to help keep lupus stable (prevent flares) Hydroxychloroquine is not "immunosuppressive" ie lowering ones defenses and does not need to be stopped during an infection. In fact it is being tried by some doctors in asia for covid cases which could potentially affect supply, so make sure you are properly stocked.
Know the signs so you can recognise them in yourself or others.
Covid-19 virus can cause mild to severe respiratory illness
Symptoms can include
- shortness of breath
and may occur 2-14 days after exposure (contact with the person or surface that transmitted the virus)
Seek medical advice
- if you develop symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or
- if you live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
Educate others. Preventing spread if everyone's business:
Avoid spreading the virus in the same way you avoid contracting the virus
wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; going to the bathroom and before eating or preparing food
- avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- stay home when you are sick
- cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then thow the tissue in the trash
Manpower and Maintenance Service Limited’s Workshop - CORONAVIRUS: FACTS NOT FEAR-FIGHTING BACK