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COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

A number of our patients have raised concerns about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its potential impact on those with melanoma. In response we have drafted information to respond to your questions. Please note that this is a rapidly evolving health event and updates are changing often, so please check the relevant government websites outlined below and especially the Australian Government Department of Health website upon which MPA has based this information.

Last updated 01 September 2020
Please click here to view the Australian Government Department of Health website upon which MPA has based this information.
Support for people with Melanoma during Covid-19 Pandemic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, an expert advisory panel has been established for each cancer type to provide guidance to doctors as well as support for patients during this time. This is a joint initiative of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre and Monash Partners Comprehensive Cancer Consortium.
Click here to read our guide for support during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Carer Support during Covid-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we care for a person at the end of life, as well as how we support those who are grieving.  Carer help has produced some new fact sheets to support carers during this pandemic.  The fact sheets provide practical information from caring at home and hospital, arranging funerals and coping with bereavement, to using Telehealth and identifying trustworthy health information online.
Click here to download the fact sheets

What is a Coronavirus or COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can make humans and animals sick. They cause illnesses that can range from the common cold to more severe diseases.

Symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia. Most people recover from the disease without needing special treatment. People with coronavirus may experience:
• fever
• flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue
• shortness of breath

There is evidence that the virus spreads from person-to-person.

The virus is most likely spread through:
• close contact with an infectious person
• contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
• touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face

There is evidence that those at higher risk of more severe illness include:
• those who are aged >60/70 years
• those who are immunosuppressed
• those who have pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and cancer)

Not everyone who is at higher risk will necessarily experience more severe illness if infected with COVID-19. There is currently no vaccine.

What’s my risk?
The good news is that most people who catch COVID-19 will have a mild illness for 1-2 weeks, and won’t need hospital treatment.

We are however aware that a number of our melanoma patients have a range of health conditions and/or are undergoing treatment that could place them at increased risk should they contract the virus.  It is important to understand your risk level and speak with your treating clinician if you have concerns.

How do I reduce the risk of getting COVID-19?
Everyone should practice good hygiene to protect against infections. Good hygiene includes:
• washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing and before, during and after food preparation
• avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes
• using a tissue and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
• avoiding close contact with others, such as touching. Maintain at least 1 metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing

Should I plan for the worst?
Plan ahead and consider what you would need to do if you had to self-isolate at home for 2 weeks (prepare a supply of essential medications, non-perishable food and everyday products, but do not panic and do not stockpile). Remember that even if you are at home in self-isolation you will be able to order food to be delivered, to spend time in your garden or balcony if this is a private area, and keep in touch with friends and family by telephone, social media such as Facetime, Whats App or Facebook.

How can I cope with stress about COVID-19?
• Make sure that you get the facts and check reliable sources as listed below. Even if people mean well they may share information which is inaccurate – make sure you check reliable sources but not multiple times every day!
Limit the time you spend checking on media coverage if you find it upsetting
Ensure you are following as healthy a diet as possible
Having routine is likely to be helpful, especially around sleeping and waking times
Being active is important. Even in isolation you could follow a yoga class on You Tube, dance to music
Do things that give you pleasure such as reading and doing crosswords
You don’t have to put on a brave face. It is stressful and acknowledging that is OK. Most people find uncertainty hard to handle and it can be useful to think about ways you have handled stress in the past e.g. meditation
Share your thoughts with the supports you already have such as Melanoma Patients Australia. Call your GP if you feel that it is getting on top of you as there may be specific recommendations your GP can make

I am unwell with cold/respiratory/flu-like symptoms, what shall I do?
PLEASE STAY HOME IF YOU ARE UNWELL and phone your GP, or call the helpline (Australian Health Department: 1800 020 080) for further instructions.
Please do not:
• Turn up to a GP clinic unannounced
• Call or visit the Emergency Department, or call 000, unless it is an emergency (e.g. chest pain, breathing difficulties, etc)

Melanoma Patients Australia is continuing to monitor the situation and we are aware that this virus is likely to have an impact on our community.  We have a range of support mechanisms that are available including our ‘Online Support Group’ click hereNational Melanoma Support Line 1300 88 44 50 and Metastatic Telephone Support Group (register your interest with MPA) which can all be accessed from home.  We do not provide medical advice but our support services can still offer vital emotional support and can help to point you in the right direction if you need specific information.
Please be alert, not alarmed; please be vigilant about hygiene and think about others.

State & Territory Health Department numbers:
NSW: 1300 066 055
VIC: 1800 675 398
QLD: 13 432 584 / 13HEALTH
ACT: 02 5124 9213 (bus) / 02 9962 4155 (AH)
NT: 08 8922 8044
TAS: 1800 671 738
SA: 1300 232 272
WA: 08 9222 4222

National Information:
Australian Government Department of Health: Click Here
Australian Government Department of Health Coronavirus (Covid-19) Health Alert: Click Here 

State & Territory Information:
New South Wales Government Health: Click Here
Victoria State Government Health and Human Services: Click Here
Queensland Government Queensland Health: Click Here
ACT Government Health: Click Here
Northern Territory Government Department of Health: Click Here
Tasmanian Government Department of Health: Click Here
Government of South Australia SA Health: Click Here
Government of Western Australia Department of Health: Click Here

Global:
World Health Organisation: Click Here

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