The Coronavirus (also called COVID-19) is spreading throughout the world with more than 100,000 people known to be infected and more than 3,000 deaths. This is an obvious concern for all of us, governments and health authorities.
Importantly, the situation seems to be changing daily. This makes it difficult to provide any definitive guidance to recipients. The best advice we can give is that if you are concerned we recommend that you speak with your transplant physician or transplant unit who may be able to provide further advice, localized for your state and circumstance.
To date there has been only one known case of a transplant recipient (a 53-year-old kidney recipient from China) acquiring the disease and he made a full recovery. (http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-02/18/c_138795665.htm)
Transplant Australia recognizes the evidence which emphasizes that recipients are at a heightened risk of illness if they acquire Coronavirus due to immuno-suppression. However, recipients are well aware of living with the potential threat of various influenzas and other coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS.
We would advise that you speak with your individual doctor if you believe you are at additional risk of acquiring Coronavirus due to your work setting or travel. We note some employers are recommending people work from home in order to slow the spread of the disease.
All recipients should following the recommendations issued by the World Health Organisation for the general population to protect yourself and others.
The WHO recommendations are:
- Wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or with soap and water.
- Maintain social distancing of at least one metre between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- Practice respiratory hygiene (covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze and then dispose of the used tissue immediately).
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early, but call in advance and follow the directions of your local health authority.
- Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority since they can provide you with reliable information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area.
- Additionally, in case of persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading, stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms, until you recover, but if you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly by calling your health provider to so you can be quickly directed to the right health facility.
This advisory, dated March 9, 2020, will be updated as information comes to hand.
Please stay safe.
Professor Richard Allen Chris Thomas
Medical Director CEO
Transplant Australia Transplant Australia