Keeping lung disease patients safe from COVID-19

What does “coronavirus” mean, and what is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are named after the crown-like bumps that cover their surfaces. This group of viruses can cause a variety of illnesses, from very serious (SARS) to not-so-serious (the common cold).

In late 2019, a novel (new) coronavirus was discovered. It is called COVID-19. If a person gets infected with it, the illness can be severe.

As of March 22, 2020, 1430 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Canada. Thousands of cases have been confirmed worldwide.

Keeping lung disease patients safe 

Respiratory infections can be especially dangerous for people who are affected by lung disease. This is true for influenza (the flu), and it’s true for novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect people who are living with asthma, COPD, lung cancer, and other lung diseases. Here’s how:

1. Wash your hands. 

Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and running water are not available. Handwashing is the easiest thing you can do to reduce your risk, so brush up on your technique here.

Keep surfaces in your home and workplace clean, too. Pay special attention to objects in high traffic areas, like handrails and doorknobs. Don’t forget to frequently clean your mobile devices (be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions).  

2. Keep your distance.

When someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from the nose and mouth. If you’re too close, you could breathe them in – along with the viruses they contain. This is the main way that the COVID-19 virus is spreading, so keep your distance from people who are coughing and sneezing. You may wish to avoid crowded public spaces, when possible. Check current travel advisories before your departure.

If you develop symptoms like fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, keep your distance from coworkers and schoolmates by staying home, and avoid public spaces. Seek medical care early. Call your healthcare provider in advance, and follow their directions. If your symptoms are very severe, visit your local emergency department.

3. Hands off!

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. This is another common way that viruses enter your body.

4. Please sneeze responsibly.

Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw away your used tissue immediately, and wash your hands right away.

5. Follow your action plan. Always.

If you have a chronic lung condition like asthma or COPD, preventing flare-ups or exacerbations can keep you out of the hospital — and, therefore, keep you away from people who are seeking care for suspected COVID-19 or flu. Continue to follow your asthma action plan or COPD action plan, and continue to take your medications as prescribed. 

Today and always, you can speak to a Certified Respiratory Educator through our free Lung Health Line if you need guidance.

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