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We are still operating at SED Stafford
We sincerely hope you and your family are keeping well during this time of uncertainty. Our top priority is your health and wellbeing. Please read the below information and understand the steps we have taken to minimise the risk of exposure at our facility
As the COVID-19 situation continues to change, we wanted to inform our patients that we have taken steps to allow South East Dermatology Stafford to continue to operate in a safe manner.
To protect our staff, patients and business
We have specific advice for those patients who we identify as being at risk due to immunosuppressant medication and/or biologic medications.
Our team will be available through our usual channels of communication, via phone, email. As advice changes we will keep patients updated.
Many patients at South East Dermatology are taking medications that suppresses your immune system.
As you are aware, there is concern about the spreading infection of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) becoming widespread and the impact it will have on the community.
Information about COVID-19
This virus causes an illness similar to influenza in that most will have a fever, runny nose and cough. For some, the infection is more severe and progresses to a pneumonia which in a small percentage can be fatal.
Most of the limited information we have about the virus comes from China1 and around 14% of cases have been classified as severe and the death rate is around 2%.
Currently in Australia the disease has been contained, limited to isolated cases and the chances of catching it therefore are low. This situation could change in the next weeks to months.
Who is at most risk?
It would appear that older age is the biggest risk factor with the death rate being 15% for those above 80, 8% for those in 70s and much less for the rest of the population. Children appear to be less likely to catch the virus and so far there have been no fatalities.
Other risk factors identified have been the health issues of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease, hypertension and cancer.
The ‘immune system’ is the term used to describe the part of our bodies that helps us fight infection. There are a variety of different medications that, in their attempt to control disease, also suppress the body’s immune system. They all differ with how powerfully they suppress the immune system and which part of the immune system they affect.
For most medications, common and mild infections such as the ‘common cold’ do not seem to occur more often or last longer than expected. More serious infections can be more common or worse on certain immunosuppressive medications.
At this point in time, we do not have any information as to how your medication may affect your disease of you were to contract COVID-19.
However, it would be reasonable to assume that if you are taking an immunosuppressive medication that you are at greater risk to catch the virus and have more severe disease. It is impossible to determine though if this is a small or large extra risk.
For all medications, there is benefit as well as potential for side effect.
There is now a new risk that was not present when you commenced your medication and this may lead to the consideration of stopping your medication.
If you choose to cease your medication, within 1-2 weeks your immune system would be functioning normally and you would not be considered to be at higher risk for COVID-19. However, your disease could flare.
If you choose to stay on your medication, your disease will remain controlled but you would have to take on the extra risk with COVID-19.
This then becomes a very individual decision as it depends upon the severity of your underlying disease, your level of disease control as well as any other risk factors you have for COVID-19 infection.
If you have any questions about this matter, please consider discussing this with your prescribing practitioner. We can not schedule a time for a telephone consultation but we will let your dermatologist know you would like to discuss this and they will attempt to call you on a phone number you have supplied. Please contact our staff for more information 07 3856 5007