SCAO Health Advisory: COVID-19 & Sickle Cell Disease. What YOU Need To Know.
Dear SCAO & Sickle Cell Community members,
As a health organization that is always striving to provide pertinent and timely updates to our members about subjects that may possibly affect them, we believe the following COVID-19 update is an important one for all members of the Sickle Cell community.
Please take the time to read and share the information below so we can all stay informed and healthy.
What is COVID– 19?
COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that has recently been discovered. We understand that this is a serious time as the number of cases of COVID-19 in Canada is increasing.
According to the World Health Organization (2020),
“The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.” (World Health Organization, 2020).
Sickle Cell Disease and COVID-19
Sickle cell disease affects the red blood cells’ ability to transport oxygen. Since COVID-19 affects the respiratory system, it is important for those who have Sickle Cell Disease to seek early medical advice and/or treatment. Also seek early medical advice and/or treatment if you are concerned, have been exposed to individuals who exhibit respiratory illness symptoms or suspect that you have COVID-19. It is important that you do not wait until you have a sickle cell crisis before seeking medical assistance.
What Can YOU Do?
Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food
- use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
When coughing or sneezing:
- cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand
- dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands afterwards
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
Clean the following high-touch surfaces frequently with regular household cleaners or diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water):
- door handles
- bedside tables
- television remotes
Stay informed with up to date information from credible sources i.e. from the World Health Organization (WHO)
If you are a healthy individual, the use of a mask is not recommended for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Wearing a mask when you are not ill may give a false sense of security. There is a potential risk of infection with improper mask use and disposal. They also need to be changed frequently.
However, your health care provider may recommend you wear a mask if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 while you are seeking or waiting for care. In this instance, masks are an appropriate part of infection prevention and control measures. The mask acts as a barrier and helps stop the tiny droplets from spreading when you cough or sneeze.
Yours In Health,
Sickle Cell Association of Ontario
Government of Canada. (2020, March 13) Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Prevention and risks
World Health Organization. (2020). Coronavirus
World Health Organization. (2020). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak
World Health Organization. (2020, March 9). Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)