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Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a disease caused by a virus that began spreading in people in December 2019. It has been classified as a pandemic by the WHO.

To help stop the virus spreading everyone should practice good hygiene including washing your hands regularly, using a tissue and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and avoiding close contact with others.

There is no need for alarm but people with kidney disease should be aware that, just like with the flu, they are at a higher risk of severe symptoms and complications from coronavirus.

It’s important to get symptoms checked out early, and make sure you are in touch with your doctor and renal units.

What should you do if you feel unwell?

If you experience symptoms of coronavirus you should seek medical attention.

The Department of Health provides the following advice:

“Call ahead of time to book an appointment. Tell your doctor about your symptoms, travel history and any recent close contact with someone who has coronavirus.

If you must leave home to see your doctor, wear a surgical mask (if you have one) to protect others.

If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, call 000 for urgent medical help.”

For people with transplants or those on dialysis please contact your own renal unit for further advice. Each renal unit is working on their own response – it is important you follow this information as it emerges.

Symptoms

People with coronavirus may experience:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

Coronavirus, just like any viral infection, can affect your affect your kidney function especially if you become very unwell, dehydrated or get another infection on top. Kidney Health Australia has a sick day management plan, which we recommend all patients and health professionals to follow, please donwload here.

How it spreads

The virus can spread from person to person through:

  • Close contact with an infectious person (including in the 24 hours before they started showing symptoms)
  • Contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
  • Touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face.

Good hygiene

Everyone must practise good hygiene to protect against infection and prevent the virus spread.

Good hygiene includes:

  • Covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
  • Disposing of tissues properly
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • Using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
  • If you are sick, avoiding contact with others and staying more than 1.5 metres away from people

Read more about protective measures against coronavirus on the World Health Organization website.

If you have a confirmed case, you need to self-quarantine to prevent it spreading to other people.

Who is most at risk of a serious illness?

Some people who are infected may not get sick at all, some will get mild symptoms from which they will recover easily, and others may become very ill, very quickly.

From previous experience with other coronaviruses, the people at most risk of serious infection are:

  • People with compromised immune systems (e.g. people with transplants and cancer)
  • Elderly people
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as they have higher rates of chronic illness
  • People with diagnosed chronic medical conditions (such as kidney disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease – including hypertension, heart disease and stroke – and respiratory disease
  • People in group residential settings
  • People in detention facilities

At this stage the risk to children and babies, and the role children play in the transmission of COVID-19, is not clear. However, there has so far been a low rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases among children, relative to the broader population.

Social Distancing

To help slow the spread, the Australian Government has advised, the following social isolation measures:

Australians are being ordered to not travel overseas or interstate)

  • Staying at home unless shopping for essential items, seeking medical care, exercise or work/study
  • Keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between you and other people whenever possible

To protect vulnerable Australians, the Government has advised self-isolation for the following Australians:

    • over 70 years of age;
    • over 60 years of age who have existing health conditions or comorbidities;
    • Indigenous Australians over the age of 50 who have existing health conditions or comorbidities.

Hydroxychloroquine

The New England Journal published an observational study of Hydroxychloroquine in Hospitalised Patients with COVID-19 with the conclusion showing no differences. Currently there is insufficient evidence for this drug meaning it should not be taken unless directed your doctor.