Last Updated: 4/2/21
How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19?
The World Health Organization recommendations include:
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean
Try to practice social distancing by keeping at least 1 metre distance between yourself and others, particularly those who are coughing and sneezing
Avoid going to crowded places
When coughing and/or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue
Practise food safety by using different chopping boards for raw meat and cooked foods and wash your hands between handling them.
In addition, we recommend that people with MS should:
Wear a face mask in public and ensure that you are using it correctly by following these instructions.
Avoid public gatherings and crowds
Avoid using public transport where possible
Where possible, use alternatives to face-to-face routine medical appointments (for example, telephone appointments).
People with progressive MS
People with MS over the age of 60
People with higher levels of disability (for example, an EDSS score of 6 or above)
People with diseases of the heart or lungs
Caregivers and family members who live with, or regularly visit, a person with MS on one of these groups should also follow these recommendations to reduce the chance of bringing COVID-19 infection into the home.
National lockdown measures in place in many parts of the world might be relaxed in the coming weeks and months. Until our understanding of the coronavirus improves, people with MS in these higher risk groups and their caregivers should continue to follow the advice above to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19.
In order to minimise the risk of being infected by COVID-19, you should follow the standard precautions advised by the Australian Government. This is the best source of advice on how to keep yourself safe and will be updated daily. You can also stay informed by downloading the official government “Coronavirus Australia” app in the Apple App Store or Google Play, or joining their WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.
What if I develop symptoms of COVID-19 infection or have a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 infection?
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 infection or have a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 infection you should:
Follow the standard self-isolation advice.
Follow the advice of the diagnosing doctor or health care facility.
Seek the advice of your neurologist or ask the diagnosing health care team to discuss with them or the on-call neurologist, regarding any changes to your treatment.
It is extremely important that you advise your neurologist if you become infected with COVID-19 as we will be collectively monitoring the outcomes for people with MS and various therapies. This will assist in providing appropriate advice to all.
Who should I contact if I have symptoms of COVID-19 infection?
If you are concerned that you are developing symptoms of COVID-19 you can:
Phone the Coronavirus Health Information Line 1800 020 080
Phone the Health Direct Hotline 1800 022 222.
Phone your General Practitioner for an appointment (please phone ahead to make an appointment).
Attend a coronavirus testing centre (these are listed for each state by the relevant health department, again please phone ahead to make an appointment).
Should I come to my outpatient clinic, infusion, bloodtest or MRI appointment?
Should I travel overseas?
Current travel advice is available on the Australian Smart Traveller website, but essentially all travel is currently severly restricted.
Should I have the flu and pneumonia vaccinations?
It is recommended that all persons with MS and related disorders have the flu vaccination. The Pneumococcal vaccination is also recommended.
What if I am a healthcare worker?
Advice for children or pregnant women with MS:
At this time there is no specific advice for women with MS who are pregnant. There is general information on COVID-19 and pregnancy on the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention website.
There is no specific advice for children with MS; they should follow the advice above for people with MS.
Advice for looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak:
The Federal Governement's Head to Health website can help you find the right digital health resources for your needs. This includes resources on how to support children and others.: https://headtohealth.gov.au/
Beyond Blue also have a page dedicated to looking after your mental health during this time: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak
Advice regarding the NDIS:
NDIS and Disaster Response: https://www.ndis.gov.au/understanding/ndis-and-other-government-services/ndis-and-disaster-response
New measures are being put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a link to the statement from the Minister: https://bit.ly/2WD8nGI
Read joint media release by Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Professor Michael Kidd AM, Principle Medical Advisor: https://bit.ly/2QXk1bX
Read MS Australia Board's full statement in support of COVIDSafe App here: https://www.msaustralia.org.au/news-blogs/latest-news/ms-australia-boards-statement-support-covidsafe-app
For Australians living with MS concerned about coronavirus, at the outset we recommend that you:
- Discuss any particular queries or concerns with your GP or neurologist (pertaining to your situation).
- Prior to your visit, re-read this page, as the MS-specific information may help you formulate your queries.
Department of Health - Coronavirus (COVID-19):
- General information: www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
- Resources: www.health.gov.au/resources/collections/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-resources
- Flu and pneumonia vaccinations
- Attendance at outpatient clinic or infusion appointments
- MRI and/or regular pathology services
Find an MS Clinic nearest you:
Disability Information Helpline:
Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability:
State & Territory MS Organisations:
- MSL: (ACT, NSW, Tasmania, Victoria): www.ms.org.au (MS Connect: 1800 042 138)
- MS Queensland: www.msqld.org.au (NeuroAssist Line: 1800 177 591)
- MS SA & NT: www.ms.asn.au (Assist: 1800 812 311)
- MS WA: www.mswa.org.au (MSWA Infoline: 1300 097 989)
State & Territory Departments of Health pages:
- Australian Capital Territory (ACT): https://bit.ly/3do7pUP
- New South Wales (NSW) https://bit.ly/3dnkOwg
- Northern Territory (NT): https://bit.ly/33Fsupe (inc. extensive FAQ section: https://bit.ly/3brPRFD)
- Queensland:(Qld): https://bit.ly/2y52jN1
- South Australia (SA): https://bit.ly/2Jc8Jfq
- Tasmania (Tas.) https://bit.ly/2WCXGE5
- Victoria (Vic.) https://bit.ly/2WKuElQ
- Western Australia (WA) https://bit.ly/33HPOCO