Cancer Council Queensland understands that Australians undergoing cancer treatment, cancer survivors and their families and friends may have questions about the recent outbreak of COVID-19.
If you have cancer, your immune system may not be as strong as it normally is, so you may feel concerned about the risks associated with the spread of COVID-19 within Australia.
People with cancer should continue to follow any specific advice or standard precautions recommended by their health care practitioners. This will minimise the risk of infection during and after treatment.
What to do if you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19
If you are currently experiencing symptoms of infection (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath) or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, please contact your treatment team. Obtain advice over the phone rather than in person, where possible, to lower your risk of exposure and to reduce the risk of exposing others.
How to minimise your risk of exposure to COVID-19
If you are currently undergoing treatment, follow these practical steps to minimise your risk of exposure:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice in your head). For a guide to thorough hand washing techniques see here. If hand washing facilities are not immediately available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. It’s a good idea to carry this with you and use it after touching communal surfaces such as door handles and handrails.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands as this can transfer the virus from surfaces.
- Avoid contact with those who are sick or have been exposed to the virus.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as your mobile phone or food preparation areas. For tips on cleaning processes visit this page.
- Avoid crowds and crowded areas, particularly when you are having chemotherapy. Refrain from unnecessary physical contact such as shaking hands, hugging or kissing.
- Implement social distancing methods by leaving at least 1.5-metres clear between yourself and other people.
- Talk to your doctor or a member of your treatment team about the times in your treatment when you may be at the highest risk of infection and plan your activities accordingly.
- Call your treatment team to see if you can conduct some of your consultations remotely via phone, Skype or Facetime.
Managing possible changes to our services
Cancer Council Queensland is focused on doing what we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Queensland. We are committed to the continuation of services during this period but understand that our volunteers must also consider their own health. As a result, we may experience a decrease in volunteers which could affect our regular services. For questions or enquiries please contact your local Cancer Council service provider for further information or call 13 11 20.
We will now be asking all visitors to our offices and accommodation lodges, and anyone using our services, to fill out a Visitor Declaration Form. This is for the safety of our staff and volunteers, and especially those living with cancer who enter our premises or use our services. We trust you will cooperate with us in implementing these new measures and appreciate your understanding.
Advice from the Australian Government concerning public gatherings and COVID-19
The Australian Government is regularly revising advice on public gatherings and social distancing nation-wide. For the most up-to-date information on public gatherings and COVID-19, please see the Australian Government Website.
Where can I get further information?
If you are feeling anxious, have questions or need support, please remember that Cancer Council’s support and information line is available on 13 11 20 during business hours. Our specially trained team can provide emotional support as well as practical tips for minimising the risk of infection during this time.
The Australian Government Department of Health has issued public health information on COVID-19 at https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov. You can also contact the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080
Or call Cancer Council on 13 11 20 for any other cancer-related information and support.