But if you are high risk, the necessity for this is amplified.
High risk people are those who are more susceptible to infection because of an existing condition. People over the age of 60 are also classified as high risk since their immune systems become weaker with age.
As high risk individuals, it’s important to take extra precautions for two reasons: your susceptibility to contracting COVID-19 could be higher due to your immune system being compromised, or your recovery process could be less effective due to your pre-existing condition or complications thereof.
The following conditions have been classified as high risk:
• Asthma: COVID-19 affects the respiratory tract, which can aggravate asthma and lead to an asthma attack. Chronic conditions can also lead to pneumonia.
• Chronic kidney disease: patients with kidney disease and those requiring dialysis have weakened immune systems and are more prone to infection.
• Chronic lung disease: since COVID-19 affects the respiratory tract, it can be a trigger that aggravates chronic lung diseases or leads to flare ups.
• Diabetes: there are several health problems that come with diabetes and raised blood-sugar levels. Some of these problems include heart disease, liver disease, urinary tract infections, nerve damage, etc. These health complications make recovery from a virus like COVID-19 that much more difficult to overcome.
• Haemoglobin disorders: sickle cell disease and thalassaemia are common haemoglobin disorders that have symptoms such as immune deficiencies, organ complications, heart disease, liver disease, to name a few. These symptoms could become aggravated with a virus like COVID-19.
• Heart conditions: respiratory infections like COVID-19 can put pressure on your heart, making it difficult for it to function properly.
• Immune deficiencies: immunocompromised patients may have a greater chance of contracting COVID-19 than someone who is healthy. They may also remain infectious for longer than other COVID-19 patients.
• Liver disease: those living with liver disease (such as inflammation and early onset fibrosis) and chronic liver disease have weak immune systems. This makes them less able to fight COVID-19.
• Severe obesity: severe obesity increases the instances of a breathing disorder called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which results in extreme difficulty in breathing. This is also a major complication for COVID-19 that requires ventilator support, and puts immense pressure on healthcare facilities.
Staying safe if you are a high risk chronic patient
The most important support and prevention for high risk patients is to stay home and social distance. Any contact with the outside world must be met with meticulous prevention protocols, such as wearing masks, washing hands, no physical contact, and sanitising surfaces where necessary.
Preventative methods for your chronic illness should always be followed. These could include exercising, eating healthily, not smoking, and not drinking alcohol. Your healthcare provider will be able to advise exactly what preventative methods are best for your condition.
If you are on medication and undergoing treatment for your chronic illness, it’s important to continue as normal. Continue to see your doctor as needed. Get a family member to collect top-up medication on your behalf and deliver it in the appropriate way, avoiding contact, wearing face masks, and sanitising where necessary.
We are here to support you if you suspect you might have COVID-19. Please call the Fedhealth Crisis Control Centre on 0860 111 646 for support, advice, and counselling.
Important contact numbers
Fedhealth Customer Contact Centre: Monday to Thursday 08h30 – 17h00; Friday 09h00 – 17h00.
Call 0860 002 153 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Emotional Wellbeing Programme: 087 365 8664 and the new Crisis Support Desk: 0860 111 646 Fedhealth Nurse Line and Emergency Medical Services: 0860 333 432 Paed-IQ: 0860 444 128 and SOS Call Me: *130*3272*31# Press 1. Emergency Medical Services; 2. Nurse Line; 3. MediTaxi
Visit the Coronavirus Hub on the Fedhealth website: https://fedhealth.co.za/media/2338/fedhealth-coronavirus-faqs-document.pdf or use the COVID-19 Chatbot (go to LiveChat on fedhealth.co.za to select). You can also use the WhatsApp service (click on https://wa.me/27600702479 from your mobile device) for assistance.
Important COVID-19 resources
COVID-19 online resource and news portal: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD): https://www.nicd.ac.za/