What you need to know
The numbers getting infected and the numbers of people dying from COVID are at an all-time high in Australia.
With the lifting of COVID restrictions nationwide, and with news and media outlets, as well as the community, tiring of the ongoing saga with the pandemic, many have become resigned or complacent.
We asked Dr Kishore Kumar for his thoughts https://hspersunite.org.au/covid-19-vaccination-hsp/ in February 2021, and felt it was time for an update. Dr Kumar, a neurologist at Concord Hospital in Sydney, outlines what the HSP community now needs to know to stay safe and help avoid serious medical consequences. Dr Kumar said that people with HSP may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of the COVID pandemic. Learn more about COVID.
The currently dominant strains of the virus, the Omicron variants, are highly contagious. Coupled with the almost complete lifting of restrictions, the cessation of free, mass testing, increased social activity and interactions, greatly reduced mask wearing and with winter and the flu season upon us, there is now a scenario playing out nationally of huge rates of infection.
Fortunately, vaccination rates are high, including a majority who have now had at least one booster shot. Unfortunately, the death toll from the virus is now averaging around 50 per day, which is an alarmingly high number, and predictably occurring in vulnerable populations such as the aged and those with other medical conditions.
- If you are eligible for a booster, get one! Second booster shots are now more widely available.
- Weigh up the risk of going where there will be crowds; avoid if possible
- Wear a mask when unavoidably mixing with people; an N95 rated mask is best
- It is also now Flu season – talk with your GP about whether a flu shot is right for you.
Symptoms & Testing
If you develop cold or flu like symptoms such as a cough, sore throat or nasal congestion, use a RAT (Rapid Antigen Test) to see if you have a COVID infection. If the test result is negative, test again the following day and at least again the day after as it can take some time after symptom onset before a RAT returns a positive test result if you have COVID.
Immediately isolate if positive and consult your GP. Treatment with antiviral medication within the first 5 days after infection is normally highly effective in helping avoid the more serious medical outcomes that require hospitalisation.
Take it easy … be kind to yourself, no physical exertion, plenty of rest. This is particularly important to continue in the second week after infection, even if you are feeling okay. Any weakening of the body’s immune response at this time can lead to the condition becoming more serious, with the potential for “long COVID” where serious symptoms can persist beyond 3 months.
Restarting your therapy program
While important to try and avoid COVID-19 infection, it can be helpful to restart your physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and/or rehabilitation program. A published study (van de Venis et al.) suggested that patients with HSP had worsening of their HSP symptoms due to pandemic related lockdowns, and so restarting your therapy programs in a COVID-safe way may help to alleviate them.