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Protect yourself from coronavirus

Published:Wednesday | May 20, 2020 | 12:24 AM

If you are immunocompromised, protect yourself from COVID-19

Many conditions and treatments can weaken a person’s immune system (making them ‘immunocompromised’). Some of these include:

Cancer

Bone marrow transplant

Solid organ transplant

Stem cells for cancer treatment

Genetic immune deficiencies

HIV

Use of oral or intravenous corticosteroids or other medicines called immunosuppressants that lower the body’s ability to fight some infections (e.g., mycophenolate, sirolimus, cyclosporine, tacrolimus, etanercept, rituximab).

Risk of severe illness from COVID-19

People with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of getting severely sick from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They may also remain infectious for a longer period of time than others with COVID-19, but we cannot confirm this until we learn more about this new virus.

Prevent COVID-19

If you are immunocompromised, the best way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

How to protect yourself and others:

1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

2. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

3. Avoid leaving home as much as possible and practise social distancing.

4. If you must leave home, avoid other people as much as possible by practising social distancing. Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet (two metres) between you and people outside your household.

5. Avoid large gatherings or places where people congregate.

6. Have supplies, food, and medicine delivered to your home.

7. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when around others to protect other people in case you are infected, and ask others to do the same.

8. Remember, do not place cloth face coverings on children younger than two years old, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.

9. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

Steps you can take to protect your health

1. Continue your regular treatment plan. Don’t stop any medications or treatments without talking to your doctor.

2. Discuss any concerns about your treatment with your doctor.

3. Keep your regularly scheduled medical appointments.

4. Talk to your doctor about steps they are taking to reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the office.

5. Use telehealth services whenever possible, if recommended by your doctor.

6. Ensure that you are getting necessary tests prescribed by your doctor. Seek urgent medical care if you are feeling unwell.

7. Talk to your doctor, insurer, and pharmacist about getting an emergency supply of prescription medications. Make sure you have at least 30 days of prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines, and supplies on hand in case you need or want to stay home for several weeks. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about ways to receive your medications by mail.

8. Take steps to care for your emotional health. Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. It is natural to feel concerned or stressed about COVID-19. Learn more about stress and coping with anxiety here. Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

9. If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others.

Source: CDC