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While it’s understandable that you may be worried about coronavirus COVID-19, and the impact it will have on yourself, your family and loved ones, it’s important that this worry is balanced with up-to-date, correct information about the virus.
There’s a lot of misinformation circulating about it, so we’ve created a place where we’ll put together all the best, authoritative information that we can find, especially when it relates to musculoskeletal conditions.
Let’s start with the name. We know it as coronavirus, but this is simply the type of virus it is.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). COVID-19 is the new kid on the block.
COVID-19 means COronaVIrus Disease 2019. Because it’s a new virus, we’re learning a lot about it as we go along, which can be scary and make us anxious.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, which means it affects the airways and lungs.
Kurzgesagt and Our World in Data have created the following video – The coronavirus explained & what you should do (Mar 19, 2020) – to help explain what COVID-19 is, how it affects your body and immune system, and what you can do to protect yourself and the broader community.
Some people who get COVID-19 recover easily, while others may get very sick very quickly.
Healthdirect Australia has developed a COVID-19 Symptom Checker, an online self-guided tool to help you find out if you need to seek medical help.
The COVID-19 Symptom Checker includes questions about travel history, contact with known cases and the clinical symptoms associated with COVID-19, including fever, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath. It provides you with advice on what you should do next, such as calling ahead before a visit to a GP or emergency department.
People most at risk of getting the virus are those who have:
People at higher risk of developing more serious health issues if they get the virus are:
We currently believe that it’s spread from person to person through:
Because close contact is required for the virus to pass from person to person, doing the following will help prevent it spreading:
Call your doctor. While you’re on the phone, tell them the symptoms, travel history and if you (or your family member) has been in close contact with someone who has the virus.
They will give you more information about what to do from there.
The Department of Health has also developed a guide to help you understand what happens if you have a suspected case of COVID-19.
Testing in Australia has now been expanded to include anyone with COVID-19 symptoms. At the beginning of the pandemic we were focused on testing people who’d been overseas, on cruise ships or had been in direct contact with someone diagnosed with the virus.
Now focus has moved to community transmission. This is when someone develops COVID-19 for no obvious reasons. They’ve not been overseas or in contact with someone with the virus…that they know about.
If you want to find out if/where you can be tested contact the Coronavirus Health Information Line (1800 020 080) or call your doctor.
For information about how you or a loved one may be affected by COVID-19, check out the following resources:
This interview with leading rheumatologist Professor Paul Bird, answers questions provided by Musculoskeletal Australia and other consumer groups about COVID-19 (coronavirus) and inflammatory arthritis.
Includes information about isolation and distancing, taking biologics, attending regular appointments to your rheumatologist, blood tests, telehealth and more.
Australian Rheumatology Association
9 April 2020
Important information for people with rheumatoid and other inflammatory arthritis, SLE and other autoimmune diseases in the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic – version 4
The ARA has updated their information in relation to COVID-19. It now includes information about what to do if you are taking medication and have risk factors for COVID-19 or have a history of recurrent infections while taking your arthritis medications.
It also includes a link to this very useful video from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (UK) Guide for rheumatology patients on immunosuppressants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There’s no specific treatment for COVID-19. Antibiotics don’t have any effect on the virus. Treatment involves managing your symptoms – for example rest, pain relief, staying hydrated. This will depend on your unique situation. Your doctor will give you more information about this.
Importantly, if you do have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call 000 immediately.
It is also recommended that you get the annual flu vaccination when it becomes available (April 2020). Talk with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
We’ve pulled together the following information from several sources that provide the facts. We’ll continue to update this page as new information and facts emerge.
Coronavirus Health Information Line
Call this line if you’re seeking information on coronavirus (COVID-19). It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 020 080.
MSK Help Line
Call our nurses for information about your musculoskeletal condition, treatments and things to do to look after yourself. It operates weekdays 9am to 5pm. Call 1800 263 265 or can email firstname.lastname@example.org and our nurses will get back to you as soon as possible on the next business day.
Our nurses are also producing short videos every few days to update you on the latest topics relating to the pandemic. Access the full range here. New videos will be added every few days. So check back or follow us on Facebook to stay in the loop.
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