Monday, 23 March 2020

How to access medicines during COVID-19

Coronavirus: how to access the medicines you and your family need

Nial Wheate, University of Sydney and Andrew Bartlett, University of Sydney
Panic buying of toilet paper, no meat or soap on supermarket shelves, and now an apparent run on medicines such as asthma puffers and children’s paracetamol.
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us in ways we’ve never had to deal with before. So Australia has announced measures to help people access their medicines.
These include limiting the number of medications people can buy, dispensing only a month’s worth of supply at a time, and placing some behind the counter.
And, of course, pharmacies are essential services so they will remain open during the forthcoming shutdown period.

Read more: Can coronavirus spread through food? Can anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen make it worse? Coronavirus claims checked by experts

There are also ways people who are self-isolating or at risk can access their medicines, from using apps, to government-funded free home delivery.
Here are some of your options for the weeks and months ahead.

Purchase limits on essential medicines

There are now purchase limits on certain medicines.
Customers in pharmacies are now limited to one of the following per person (or one month’s supply, if relevant):
  • asthma puffers (Ventolin) and other medicines used for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • paracetamol
  • Epipen, to manage severe allergic reactions
  • some heart medicines, such as glyceryl trinitrate
  • some diabetes medicines, including insulin
  • some anti-epileptic medicines.
Purchasing limits have also been placed on many other prescriptions.
Pharmacists have been directed to only dispense one month’s supply for more than 50 different medicines used to treat a range of conditions, including: cancer, Parkinson’s, chronic pain, blood pressure, and contraceptives.
Children’s paracetamol will now be kept behind the counter.

Read more: Ibuprofen and COVID-19 symptoms – here's what you need to know

What to do if you can’t get to your local pharmacy

If you have been directed to self-isolate or if it’s risky for you to shop at a pharmacy, there are still options.
If you are in isolation, are over the age of 70, of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, or have a compromised immune systems or chronic health condition, you may be eligible for a free service to deliver medicines to your home.
This scheme only covers the costs of delivery for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines. The scheme does not include everyday products like hand sanitiser or regular over-the-counter medicines.

Read more: Why are older people more at risk of coronavirus?

If you’re not eligible for the home medicines service, one way to get your prescription and non-prescription medicines delivered to your home is via an app like mymedkit.
This Australian-based company allows you to take a photo of your prescription and upload it into the app, where the script is then filled by your local pharmacy.
You can choose what day and time you want it delivered so you can be there when it arrives. And if you don’t need prescription medicines, they can also deliver other products like vitamins, skincare creams, first aid kits, baby wipes and nappies.

Read more: Instant prescriptions might be the way of our digital future, but we need to manage the risks first The Conversation

Nial Wheate, Associate Professor | Program Director, Undergraduate Pharmacy, University of Sydney and Andrew Bartlett, Associate Lecturer Pharmacy Practice, University of Sydney
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Face Masks

As things heat up with the pandemic, some lupies are using face masks when they have to go out in public.

I tried to find out if any health authorities are actually recommending that. The closest I could find is the World Health Organisation which says people with COVID-19 should wear them, and healthy people in contact with people with COVID-19 should wear them. I can't find any mention of people with chronic illness.

Therefore, that's a definite I don't know.

So as always, check with your doctor if you have the opportunity, and make whatever you feel is the best choice for your health.

I do know that using a mask incorrectly can increase the risk of infection.  If the virus is on the mask, that is rubbing against your face, that's a risk factor.  If you're using one, be careful to do it correctly.

Here's the WHO's advice on who should wear a mask.

And, importantly,  here is how to use one properly.

If you need to make your own,  and can sew, you'll find a pattern here:  The instructions to go with the pattern, if needed, are here:

Remember if you're using a reusable mask, it will need to be washed or, soaked in disinfectant prior to washing, as soon as it comes off. Be careful how you handle it until it's clean, and wash your hands.

Stay safe out there lovely lupies.  We're going to get through this.


Just saw this video from the Lupus Foundation of America, in which Duane Peters from the Foundation asks Rheumatologist Dr Blazer about safety going out, and she recommends masks and gloves.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Things to Do While Being Physically Distant

Well, lovely lupies,  we were already super-careful about infectious diseases, then COVID-19 came along and ramped the risks up.  If, like me, you're avoiding going out unless you absolutely have to, you might want something to keep you occupied at home. And if, like me, you have no money, you might want those things to be free (or dirt cheap.)

So here's some suggestions:

  • Visit the some of the world's best art galleries (virtually) at Google Arts and Culture
  • Catch some live London Theatre at What's on Stage.
  • Other live theatre is  available at Filmed on Stage.
  • Go to the ballet.  Here's 12 Ballet Performances you can Watch Right Now.
  • Watch some of Europe's best Opera performances at OperaVision.
  • Read a free ebook from Project Guttenberg. If there's not enough choices there, go to Nothing in the Rulebook, for a list of 45 places you can download free ebooks.
  • If you prefer to have someone read a book to you, listen to an audio book from LibriVox.
  • Learn something new with one of 1,500 free online courses at Open Culture.  This one also has free courses for kids K-12 (which could be helpful if the schools close), as well as movies and ebooks.
  • Learn to paint. Monte Mart has free online lessons.
  • Plant a vegetable garden.  (I'm doing this - it's going to take a while, because I manage about five minutes of physical labour before I'm exhausted and have to rest for the rest of the day.) You can buy seeds cheaply online, or here are 25 Foods you Can Regrow Yourself from Kitchen Scraps.
  • Want to join in the Adult Colouring craze?  Just Colour has 1,500 free colouring pages.
  • If you like my writing, buy my books from any online bookshop, or direct from the publisher.
  • Write your own book. Paint, sew, do some craft, catch up on all the odd jobs you've been putting off around the house or garden.
  • Tired of being inside? Grab your hat and sunblock and go for a walk. Just choose somewhere that's quiet, and keep your distance from other people you see on the path.
  • Go for a drive.  When my kids were younger, we'd go for drives in the bush, and every time we saw cattle, we'd yell "Cow!". The kids called it "cowing".  It may not suit everyone's taste, but we used to laugh ourselves silly. A variation is the "bear hunt" that's being shared on Facebook.  People put teddy bears in their windows, so families can drive around looking for bears.
  • Have a family picnic - again, just choose somewhere quiet, away from other people. As the social distancing gets more serious, I suggest your own back yard.
  • Keep in contact with your family and friends, use telephone, Face Time, social media, mail, email, or carrier pigeon.  Do whatever it takes to be socially close with your loved ones, while being physically distant from everyone.
  • Missing going to church?  The Uniting Church has a list of its congregations which are live streaming services.  If you're not UCA, your denomination may have something similar. Check their social media postings for information.
  • You can go to the zoo, with Mangolink Live Animal Cams and Videos, or Zoos Victoria.

Note: I will update this post from time to time, as I find or think of other things.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Social Distancing

Source: Queensland Health
Australia is being invaded, the enemy, COVID-19 is invading multiple other countries as well.  Different nations are handling the pandemic differently.

Australia has been acting to slow down the progress of the disease, isolating cases of people who have been proved to have the disease, and now isolating people arriving in Australia.

Sooner or later, the disease will start to transfer from person to person in the community, and the government is trying to get ahead of that, calling for gatherings of more than 500 people to be cancelled.  Other countries, where the disease has further progressed, such as the USA, there is a recommendation to cancel gatherings of more than 50.  In Austria, the limit is five people.

Everywhere, social distancing is being recommended.

We're also being told that a coronavirus is basically a form of influenza, and young, fit, healthy people really don't have much to be worried about.  But let's not forget, that in World War One, the Spanish Flu killed far more people than the fighting. For lots of people this is nothing much to worry about.  For others it can be deadly.

The people who are most at risk of COVID-19 being a serious, or fatal, illness are the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions.

That means, lupies and others like us, who have dodgy immune systems, need to be a little more careful than other people.

If everyone could be trusted to self-quarentine when they are exposed to the condition, we wouldn't really have to worry.  But as the whole thing with panic buying of toilet paper has shown, people can be quite stupid and selfish. Some will catch the disease, feel quite OK, and be happy to risk our lives by going out in public.

Source: Queensland Health
The main thing I plan to do to protect myself, is avoid people as much as possible.  I'm going into hiding. After months of staying indoors to avoid bushfire smoke (I have mild asthma, and my son/carer has worse) we're now avoiding going out to avoid coronavirus.  Now, however, we can at least go out to the back yard, and even walk the dog, so in some ways things have improved.

I'm going to go to ordering groceries online, to avoid supermarkets.  That means dealing with a delivery driver, who I can only hope will be healthy, and with bringing things into my home,  bearing in mind COVID-19 can stay on surfaces for up to two or three days. So I'm probably going to wipe all my deliveries down with disinfectant where possible.

I was pleased to note that supermarkets are starting to have special shopping times for people who are more vulnerable, although disappointed that in some states, they're ceasing home delivery.

If home delivery is cancelled here, I will take advantage of the special shopping hour, or go in times I know from experience are quieter.

There are some things I absolutely have to go out for.  I still have to go to the doctor, the pharmacy, and for blood tests.  The best I can do with that is to choose the times I know they are less busy.

I will avoid public transport.  I have to see my specialist next month.  I usually catch a train to Brisbane for that appointment, this time, I'll go by car.

To vote in the upcoming local council elections, I've applied for a postal vote.

There are only two regular gatherings of people I normally go out for: writers' group and church.  The writers' group has been cancelled. I've decided to stop going to church until the crisis passes or a vaccine is available.

For the most part, I've been living most of my social life on line for years, so things are really not changing much.

So lovely lupies, over the next few months, let's wash our hands obsessively, make sure our meds don't run low, hope and pray for the best, keep in contact on line, and get through this the best we can.

For a complete explanation of social distancing, go to: coronavirus-covid-19-information-on-social-distancing.pdf

For latest information from World Health Organisation on COVID-19, go to: