30/06/2021

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) – HOW IT SPREADS

The Coronavirus can spread from person-to-person by:

  • Close contact with a person while they are infectious(including in the 48 hours before they have symptoms)
  • Close contact with an infected person who coughs or sneezes
  • Contact with contaminated surfaces.

It may be impossible to know if a person or surface is infectious which is why personal hygiene and physical distancing is so important. See more below.

PREVENTION – HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

Based on a global study commissioned by Asthma Australia, people with asthma don’t appear to be at greater risk of acquiring COVID-19 than others. You can read the full report here. Therefore, it is appropriate to follow the standard public health recommendations such as:

  • maintaining good physical distancing practices.
  • maintaining good hygiene
  • get vaccinated when you can

People with asthma should also take steps to control their asthma as best they can.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing means keeping at least 1.5 metres (approximately two arm lengths) between yourself and others at all times.

It also includes:

  • avoiding physical greetings such as handshaking, hugs and kisses
  • practising extra care if you are using public transport
  • avoiding crowds – if you see a crowded space do not enter
  • avoiding large public gatherings

For more information about physical distancing, see here.

Good hygiene

Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses. You should:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick and avoid contact with others
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the bin
  • If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the bend of your elbow or in your upper sleeve.
  • Wash hands regularly e.g. after going to the toilet, before and after eating and after coughing/sneezing or blowing nose:
    • With soapy water for 20 seconds
    • With alcohol-based hand sanitiser (if soap and water not available)
  • Clean frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

For more information about good hygiene for preventing COVID-19, see here.

Vaccination

Asthma Australia supports the COVID-19 vaccination program. People with asthma should feel confident about accessing these vaccines alongside other Australians.

Annual vaccination against the influenza virus is also recommended as soon as it’s available each year, usually in April-May.

For more information on the COVID-19 Vaccine and asthma see:

COVID-19 Vaccine and Asthma

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for people with Asthma

Maintain good control of your asthma

If you have like asthma, it is important to do everything you can to maintain good control. This is especially important as it may be difficult to access your normal medical care during the pandemic. Steps to main good asthma control include:

  • taking your regular preventer medicines as prescribed
  • ensuring your asthma action plan is up to date, useful and you understand how to use it
  • managing and avoiding your other known triggers where possible
  • managing and living well with your other long term conditions
  • making good lifestyle choices around diet and exercise
  • avoiding risky behaviours like smoking.

And as usual, it’s important that you have a spare supply of your reliever and preventer medicines. Currently we’re recommending one month of supply. There is no need to “stock-up” as this may create supply chain shortages.

PREVENTION – HOW TO PROTECT THE COMMUNITY AGAINST CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

Many of us are feeling a loss of control in these difficult times, but we all have some control over how this virus will impact our community. Each person has control over how well they follow the public health advice from the government. This includes instructions about hygiene, physical distancing and if relevant, self-isolation and quarantine.

People who are unwell should practice strict self-isolation. This means avoiding unnecessary contact with others including at school, work, and on public transport. Anyone with any symptoms are asked to present to a COVID testing facility for a COVID test.

People who are well should follow the current public health advice in your local area.

Read more up to date information from the Australian Department of Health here

SHOULD I WEAR A FACE MASK?

Wearing a mask can help protect you and those around you if you are in an area with community transmission, and physical distancing is not possible.

According to the Australian Department of Health, the main value of wearing a mask is to protect other people, whether you have a known respiratory infection or not. For people at increased risk of severe COVID-19 themselves, physical distancing is most important.

Face masks may also provide some protection against contracting viruses that you may otherwise come into contact with.

Click here for information about face masks and medical exemptions.

AM I AT RISK?

In Australia, the people most at risk of getting the virus are those who have:

  • been in contact with a person with COVID-19
  • recently been overseas
  • been in correctional or detention facilities
  • lived in residential care settings.

Some people who are infected may not get sick at all, some will get mild symptoms from which they will recover easily, and others may become very ill, very quickly.

According to the Commonwealth Department of Health, the people most at risk of serious infection are:

  • People with low immunity (e.g. cancer)
  • People aged 70 years or older
  • People aged 65 years or older with chronic medical conditions
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or older with one or more chronic medical condition.

Asthma Australia calls on the community to look out for people who fall into the above categories and take the following steps to reduce the risk that the people most vulnerable in our community are protected:

  • Maintain good social distancing and personal hygiene with regular handwashing
  • Older people should stay at home and avoid contact with others
  • We all must help older people with medicine and grocery delivery
  • There are supports available to older people who are isolated
  • Where possible make frequent contact with our older loved ones
  • Older people who experience breathing difficulties should contact their doctor. Both worsening or new asthma as well as COVID-19 can cause new breathlessness in older people and it’s important that these symptoms are properly investigated if they occur. these symptoms are thoroughly examined by a doctor if they occur.

The risk COVID-19 poses for people with asthma is not perfectly understood yet – whilst we’re confident that people who are not burdened by their disease are not more vulnerable to COVID-19, there may be parts of the asthma population who may experience greater vulnerability. We recommend that people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses are aware of the measures that they can adopt to avoid contracting and sharing infection, they stay generally well and maximise their asthma control.