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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and MS

Washing hands - Coronavirus (COVID-19) and MS
4 March 2020

We know many people living with MS in Australia (and worldwide) are anxious about coronavirus – a new respiratory illness – and what it means for them.

Deidre Mackechnie, CEO, MS Australia says,

“we are aware of the concerns of the MS community in Australia. MS affects everyone differently and no two people experience the condition the same way and have different treatment plans. We understand that you may be feeling overwhelmed by the volume of media reports about coronavirus and possibly confused about where to go for information and what to do. We hope the information below will assist.”

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) Read the recent news item by the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (extract in box below), which provides some MS-specific information and may help you formulate your queries.

It is also important to regularly check the following Australian Government websites, for information about COVID-19, including protecting yourself and minimising your risk:

  • Department of Health - Coronavirus (COVID-19):
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for travellers: https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/   
    We also suggest if you are travelling, that you contact your travel insurance provider to see what they cover regarding medical illness.

The World Health Organisation website (www.who.int) has general advice for the public regarding precautions, other concerns and handy FAQs.

Many of Australia’s major health services offer advice for MS patients about matters such as:

  • Flu and pneumonia vaccinations
  • Attendance at outpatient clinic or infusion appointments
  • MRI and/or regular pathology services

So please visit the website of your nearest health service: https://health.govcms.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/healthdirect-find-a-health-service

Associate Professor Anneke van der Walt, Neurologist and a Principal Research Fellow at the Central Clinical School, Monash University, says,

“If you are feeling unsettled by the news about the coronavirus, it’s best at this time to seek advice and information from your most trusted and reliable sources - your doctor and healthcare team and your local health service.   Being well informed during this dynamic situation is very important.  There’s some very helpful general information about the coronavirus on the Australian Government and state health department web-sites, but should you need advice relevant to your particular circumstances and your current experience of MS, then contacting your regular healthcare team is the best.”

 

The coronavirus and MS – what you need to know (extract)

Article by the MS International Federation
13 February 2020

The ‘novel coronavirus’ (recently named by the World Health Organization as COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that has not previously been seen in humans. COVID-19 is a strain of coronavirus that was first detected in China in December 2019, and has since spread to other parts of the world.
 

What does COVID-19 mean for people living with MS?

As this strain of the coronavirus is new, we still need to learn more about how it may affect people with MS.

Many disease modifying therapies (DMTs) for MS work by suppressing or modifying the immune system. We know that people with MS who are receiving these therapies can face an increased risk of complications related to viral infections.

If you are taking a DMT and are either exposed to COVID-19 or are confirmed to have the COVID-19 infection, please contact your neurologist or other medical professional.

To read the full news item visit: https://bit.ly/2IhzRt8