Help stop the spread and stay healthy.
We understand those in our community undergoing cancer treatment, cancer survivors and their families and friends may have questions in relation to COVID-19.
If you have cancer, your immune system may not be as strong as it is normally is and you may feel concerned.
Generally, you should continue to follow specific advice and standard precautions recommended by your health care practitioners to minimise your risk of infection, during and after treatment.
We recommend that you follow the Cancer Council and Australian Governments advice for looking after yourself and family.
If you are experiencing symptoms
If you are currently experiencing symptoms of infection (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath) or are aware you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus please contact your treatment team. Where possible obtain advice over the phone rather than attending in person to lower your risk of exposure and to reduce the risk of exposing others.
If you are undergoing cancer treatment
If you are currently undergoing treatment some practical ways to limit your risks of exposure include:
Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or if not immediately available use an alcohol-based hand rub. It’s a good idea to carry this with you. It is especially important to wash your hands before eating or drinking.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as this can transfer the virus from surfaces and increase the risk of infection.
Avoid contact with those who are sick or unwell or have travelled overseas.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (tables, benches, light switches, doorknobs, sinks, toilets, remotes, such as your mobile phone or eating surfaces). Wear gloves (disposable if possible). Clean obvious debris with soap and water. Clean with a 70% alcohol solution or a mix of 4 teaspoons of bleach per litre of water.
Stay at home and social isolate yourself This is especially important if you are currently having chemotherapy or are post treatments such as bone marrow transplantation.
Maintain a 1.5 metre physical distance between yourself and others
Talk to your doctor or member of your treatment team about the times in your treatment when you may be at the highest risk of infection so you can plan your activities accordingly. (Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to boosting the immune system beyond adhering to a healthy lifestyle).
Call your treatment team to see if you can do you some of your consultations remotely via phone, Skype or Facetime.
Stay home as much as possible and avoid non-essential travel and avoid public transport if you can.
Vulnerable people should stay at home and limit all non-essential gatherings and outings to when completely necessary.
Can you find someone to assist you with gathering essentials supplies such as groceries? Buy more goods and services online to limit your visits to the shops
Maintain about 1.5 metre of physical distance when you do have to go out.
Ways to keep social distance within your households include:
- Limit food handling and sharing food with others
- Promote good hand and cough/sneeze hygiene and provide hand sanitisers to those around you
- Clean and disinfect shared high-touch surfaces regularly
- Increase the amount of fresh air by opening your windows or adjusting the air conditioning
- Hold meetings and catch up with friends via video conferencing or phone call
If you do take prescription or over-the-counter medication, make sure you have enough at home or in a safe place that you are able to access. A one-month supply is ideal.
For family, friends and carers
If you have had contact with a person who could be at an increased risk of having the cororavirus, avoid any contact with the person who is receiving cancer treatment.
Talk to your health care provider about receiving the influenza vaccination as early in the flu season as possible.
Maintaining social welfare
Maintaining friendships and relationships can be especially difficult if you need to distance yourself to from others to reduce your risk of infection. Friends and family play an important role in managing your welfare during a difficult and anxious time.
Here are some tips for keeping in contact with friends and family:
- Try to use video calling tools such as FaceTime or Skype to communicate
- Call friends and family as often as possible and let them know how you’re feeling so they can offer the support you need
- Use group chat tools such as Facebook messenger to keep in touch with many people at once
- Think about whether there are other ways to stay connected while maintaining a social distance. Is there a neighbour you can talk to over the fence?
- Download the “Coronavirus Australia” government app in the Apple App Store or Google Play
- join the Australian government WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.