What a year 2020 has been so far. From bushfires, to floods and viral outbreaks. With each process unravelling we’re all needing to take stock, breathe and reassess things.
COVID-19 was declared a serious communicable disease on 29th January 2020 and the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic on the 11 of March. It is a novel (new) coronavirus. Coronaviruses are not new, in fact all of you have had previous exposure to coronaviruses as a common cold or upper respiratory tract infection. The problem with this coronavirus is that when it attacks the alveoli in the lungs there is a stronger immune response by your immune system from previous coronavirus exposures so there is more lung inflammation. This leads to acute respiratory syndrome where the body is unable to oxygenate adequately and the person becomes unwell, requiring oxygen, hospital respiratory support and possibly ICU admission for ventilation.
The disease is worse in older people because they have had more previous exposures, and because they can have underlying medical conditions which means that they cannot compensate for the respiratory strain. Children and young adults can still have the disease but because they are not acutely unwell they continue with normal day to day activities, furthering the spread of the disease.
In countries where there has been a swift and comprehensive response to the disease, the rates of disease have been reduced. This has meant that if people require hospitalisation they can access it. This is certainly the case in Singapore and Taiwan. In other countries where there has been a delayed response to containment, like Italy, the rates of illness and death have been enormous. The Italian medical system is now on the brink of collapse.
With recent developments I have to take direction from medical authorities which is to ask that you not attend the clinic in person if you meet any of the following:
- Recently travelled overseas
- Been in contact with someone who has been confirmed as having COVID-19 (Corona virus)
- Have symptoms of fever, dry cough, shortness of breath or sore throat
It is better to be safe and cautious. Obviously the above symptoms can be just another virus or cold but given proximity to confirmed cases and the speed of spread I need to consider everyone. I treat a lot of pregnant women, families, immunocompromised individuals and have small kids myself. We need to not be alarmed or anxious but calmly be sensible and proactive.
The concept of the flattening effect is crucial right now. Most people will be completely fine if they acquire this virus. The people we need to be most concerned about are those that are elderly, unwell, immunocompromised, or pregnant. I am not trying to be alarmist but Australia needs to act as vigilantly as it can. Everyone has been surprised by this virus – its speed, its virility and how no one is sufficiently prepared. Be prepared not anxious. Be socially responsible.
Colleagues and friends in the medical profession I respect greatly are all taking a similar approach and I encourage you to as well. I urge you all to do the following:
- Wash your hands with soap and water (preferably) regularly and especially before eating or touching surfaces outside your home
- Limit your social activities – no parties, gatherings, church/synagogue, movies, restaurants
- Do not travel unless an emergency
- Especially avoid public swimming pools, gyms, yoga studios etc.
- If you can work from home please do.
- Avoid public transport
Personally I am doing the above for my family. I have to continue to work but am not attending any conferences, am having all meetings online, avoiding my university (as all can be done remotely).
Please remember that my care and support isn’t affected in any way – Given my international practice, I consult via skype/zoom/phone and if you’re unwell my support will be even more important. Please feel free to switch your upcoming consultation to online/phone to assist with social responsibilities. Some of you will want to come in and I entirely support that. Remote work is equally efficient but until I am advised otherwise I will continue to be at the clinic. This might change rapidly – Tracey or I will contact you if your appointment is moving to online/phone and thank you in advance for your understanding.
Additionally, I am opening up some additional acute appointment times this week and for the next few weeks as needed. If you need to review your health, have any concerns or want to individualise an immune protocol for you please email me or Tracey and we’ll book you in. Appointments will be 15 mins duration to accomodate as many people as possible.
I have had a lot of enquiries about my recommendations for self care and for your loved ones. I have created a blog which outlines a few key areas. Please remember to reach out for specific individualised queries and note that family members may need to have the recommendations reviewed for their specific health.
Staying centred and level headed is the most important. Viruses are common. Global fast moving ones have happened before and will happen again. The strategies I’ve highlighted above are to embrace the flattening effect and to support the country in minimising risk and spread.
Above all, the most important thing is to focus on is how we treat and support each other. Loving kindness goes a long way.
If you have any queries or concerns, please reach out.