COVID-19 and Diabetes

Critical information for people living with diabetes and their direct contacts

COVID-19

What is COVID-19 ?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a corona virus, a family of viruses that can cause illness in humans and animals. Symptoms range from a mild cough to pneumonia. Some people recover easily however others may become seriously ill very quickly.

For more general information about COVID-19 from the Commonwealth Government, visit  www.australia.gov.au and from the WA State Government, visit www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/coronavirus

The National Coronavirus Helpline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 1800 020 080.

You can download the official government “Coronavirus Australia” app in the Apple App Store or Google Play, or join their WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.

If you have symptoms

If you are very unwell (such as experiencing shortness of breath) and need urgent medical help call 000.

If it’s not an emergency, you can get advice from HealthDirect on 1800 022 222 to speak to a registered nurse. They have an online symptom checker that can help you decide what action you should take.

Covid-19

Symptoms range in seriousness. People with COVID-19 may experience:

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Fever  (a temperature above 37.5 degrees)
  • Muscle aches and pains

Symptoms usually start a few days after a person is infected with the virus.

Most cases occur approximately 3-7 days after exposure.

In some people, symptoms can take longer to develop (up to 14 days).

 

There is evidence that the virus spreads from person-to-person through:
• close contact with an infectious person
• 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.
We have received many enquiries  from people living with all types of diabetes about their risk of contracting COVID-19.
Not everyone with diabetes is the same.  Some may not have an increased risk and those with other health conditions, elevated blood glucose levels or a weakened immune system may be at an increased risk.
If people living with diabetes do become infected with  COVID-19, they may take longer to recover. The virus may also be harder to treat because illnesses can cause an increase in blood glucose levels.  This may lead to some people with diabetes becoming more unwell.
If you are concerned about your risk we recommend you talk to your health care team or call our Helpline on 1300 001 880.

It is vital that EVERYONE takes precautions to avoid the virus. The below recommendations are doubly important for people living with diabetes and anyone in close contact with them, to reduce their risk.

  • Wash hands thoroughly and regularly. Especially before eating and after being in a public area.
  • Avoid touching your face before you have washed and dried your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Don’t share food, glasses, towels, tools etc.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze (use a tissue or your elbow).
  • Dispose of tissues immediately after use.
  • Avoid contact with others showing symptoms of respiratory illness (sneezing or coughing)
  • Practice strict social distancing from others and consider self-isolation.
  • Stay at home if you are unwell with flu-like symptoms and follow your sick day management plan.
  • Seek medical care early if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Contact your doctor by phone initially as visiting a clinic can increase your risk of being exposed to the virus.
The Australian Government is advising people aged over 60 with a chronic illness to stay at home and self isolate for their own protection to the maximum extent practicable.

For more information visit:

healthywa.wa.gov.au/coronavirus

For people living with diabetes it is very important to have a sick day plan. It is also important to make additional preparations in case you become unwell.

Ensure you have sufficient supplies for 30 days in case you need to self-quarantine. This includes ensuring you have adequate prescriptions, medications and diabetes supplies, your chosen hypoglycaemia treatment which may be needed to manage your blood glucose levels, as well as adequate supplies of food in your pantry, fridge and freezer. 

We also recommend checking that your blood glucose meter works if you haven’t used it for a while and that you have a backup battery and enough strips. 

You can buy medications and other supplies from your local pharmacy or your local NDSS product stockist. The Diabetes WA online shop is also stocked with diabetes products (other than medications), including blood glucose monitors, lancets, test strips, needles and syringes and other related products. You can order online by visiting the online shop or by calling the Diabetes WA Helpline on 1300 001 880. 

Ordering supplies 

Diabetes WA is hearing that some consumers in WA are experiencing difficulty accessing NDSS products through some pharmacy Access Points. 

Diabetes WA understands that occasionally some local wholesalers (the suppliers of NDSS products to WA pharmacies) may have limited stocks of some popular products and are awaiting re-stocking from the Pharmaceutical company’s warehouses located on the east coast. These warehouses are reporting they have plenty of stock available and are routinely sending stock to fill any supply gaps.

The Diabetes WA online shop is an NDSS Access Point and we have also experienced some supply difficulties. However, we are working with suppliers and are getting new stock through every day.

You can order online at www.shop.diabeteswa.com.au

Diabetes WA does not supply insulin or other medicines.  Please contact your local pharmacy for supplies.  You should also visit the NDSS website  for more specific advice.

If you are in WA and experiencing difficulties accessing your NDSS product supply, please telephone the Diabetes WA Helpline on 1300 001 880. Diabetes WA’s shop holds some stocks which may be able to assist you.  Alternatively, by phoning, we can help you: 

  • identify potential alternative NDSS Access Points which have different wholesaler suppliers and therefore may have stock.
  • move to your backup plan. If you don’t have one, our Credentialled Diabetes Educators can help you by arranging a telehealth appointment.

Please note Diabetes WA does not support bulk purchases and inventory hoarding. Many of the NDSS products have expiry dates which mean large inventories will likely expire before usage. 

Please note that the NDSS has introduced temporary measures to ensure availability for everyone.  

  1. People can now order three (3) boxes of NDSS products including blood glucose monitoring strips, urine monitoring strips, pen needles, and syringes. 
  2.  There is also a limit of two (2) boxes for insulin pump consumables (IPCs) for any order. This includes:
  • 2 x boxes of infusion setsor cannulas (an average supply for two months) 
  • 2 x boxes of reservoirs/ cartridges (an average supply for two months).

Access to continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and Flash GM (FreeStyle Libre) products through the NDSS remain unchanged. 

For the vast majority of people living with diabetes, these limits represent well over one month’s supply. 

There may be some exceptions where people may need more than these supply amounts, such as people living remotely. People who need to order more than these amounts should contact the NDSS Helpline on 1800 637 700. 

Please visit the Therapeutic Goods Administration website for the latest information about the availability of diabetes medicines. 

For the latest information on COVID-19 and the NDSS, please visit the NDSS website  

People living with diabetes need a plan to closely manage their blood glucose levels and adjust their medication when they are unwell.

Blood glucose levels change when your body is fighting an infection or illness.  You may require medication to manage your blood glucose levels or adjustments to your current medications.  People that require insulin may notice a more significant effect on their blood glucose levels than others.

Higher blood glucose levels may occur when you have a high temperature >37.5 degrees and/or with illnesses such as the flu.  Your immune system may require more energy to fight off the infection and your liver will release more glucose into your blood stream.  Additionally, stress hormones released during periods of illness may stop your insulin from doing its job.   For people on insulin or some oral diabetes medications, lower blood glucose levels may also occur if they have a poor appetite or experience vomiting or diarrhoea.

If you do not have a sick day plan, or to review your plan, please read:

NDSS Fact Sheet Managing Sick Days for Type 1 Diabetes

NDSS Fact Sheet Managing Sick Days for Type 2 Diabetes

If you want help with reviewing your Sick Day Plan, you can speak with a Credentialled Diabetes Educator on the Diabetes WA Helpline on 1300 001 880.

  • Ensure you have current contact details for your health care team and a reliable way to communicate with them if you need to self-isolate.
  • Keep your Medicare, NDSS, Private health, Concession Cards and Numbers together.
  • Write down the names and doses of all your medications.
  • If you have type 1 diabetes, record your correction and carbohydrate ratios to assist health providers in giving advice on medication adjustments.
  • If you are on an insulin pump, record your basal rate, correction and carbohydrate ratios, together with your average total daily dosage of insulin. These may be useful if you need to change to insulin injections for any reason.
  • Vaccinations – to reduce your risk of having to cope with both COVID-19 and other illnesses at the same time, the WA Department of Health advice is that people should continue to get flu and pneumonia vaccinations as applicable and when they are made available. As always if you have any concerns about any of this information you should consult your doctor.
  • If you live alone make sure someone you can rely on knows you have diabetes as you may require assistance if you get ill. This could be a family member, friend or health professional.

Having a trusted, local diabetes educator who can advise and support you in your decisions can be invaluable. However, if you don’t have an educator, or if your educator is unavailable or sick, or if you can’t make it to see them in person, you can access advice from Diabetes WA’s free online and telephone services:

  • Diabetes WA Helpline: free access to the latest diabetes management advice from a Credentialled Diabetes Educator on 1300 001 880, 8:30am – 4:30pm Monday to Friday.
  • Diabetes WA Telehealth Service for all metro and regional areasbook a free consultation with our team of diabetes educators including dietitians, pharmacists, and registered nurses. General diabetes education is delivered via videoconferencing on your computer or your mobile device, from the comfort of your home or anywhere with suitable equipment. To book, call 1300 001 880 or email telehealth@diabeteswa.com.au.

Please note that in order to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure, Diabetes WA has suspended programs that involve face to face contact in the community, including DESMOND and Smarts workshops, kids camps and Let’s Prevent group programs.

COVID-19 and the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS)

We recognise that people with diabetes and their families may be concerned about their risk, and also the availability of their diabetes medicines and NDSS products and supplies. Most people are continuing to order and receive their NDSS products and diabetes medicines as usual. This ensures enough products are available for everyone.  For the latest information on COVID-19 and the NDSS, please visit the NDSS website at ndss.com.au/coronavirus-covid-19-information/. 

If you need a bit of extra support, or if you are struggling with your diabetes management during this time, please don’t hesitate to call the NDSS Helpline on 1800 637 700 to speak to a health professional.

Other advice and tips

Diabetes WA regularly shares advice and tips to stay healthy and manage your diabetes.

If you are  feeling  worried or concerned about the current situation , please read this NDSS Fact Sheet for some advice  on  managing your worry,

Below are links to the latest blog posts and how to sign up for e-newsletters and follow our social media channels.

Blog posts

What are the risks for people living with diabetes?

Social distancing

How can I boost my immunity?

Exercise during social isolation

Mental Health wellness tips for home quarantine

 

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