Thank you to those who have sent in comments following the FAQ bulletin that was issued last Tuesday.
From the Courtfield perspective, we have seen similar levels of Coronavirus cases this week compared to the previous week, which may perhaps provide a glimmer of hope that the number of new cases is starting to “level off”.
None of our patients required admission to hospital last week, although many remain symptomatic at home and require regular monitoring.
A few of you have made use of the additional out of hours number (07801 748 692) which was publicised in last week’s bulletin. We hope that this has been helpful.
Please be reassured that the practice remains open, 8.30am to 5pm and Saturday mornings and although for reasons of safety the vast majority of consultations are taking place via telephone, we are all still here to support you for all problems – not only those related to Coronavirus.
I am aware that at least one of you was concerned about the advice mentioned in last week’s bulletin about how long one should self-isolate after developing symptoms. Although the official NHS England position is that self-isolation for one week is sufficient, once your symptoms have resolved, our own experience over the past few weeks is that very few patients will have completely recovered by this time. We therefore believe that it is sensible to continue to self-isolate for a further week after symptoms have resolved – particularly if you are in a household with a vulnerable family member.
AN UPDATE ON TESTING
This remains a very frustrating area as no antigen or antibody tests have yet been approved for use in the private sector by Public Health England.
There are concerns that the current private tests available have too many “false negatives and false positives” and as the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty has stated, “a bad test is worse than no test”.
We have also been advised this morning that any organisation promoting private testing is subject to investigation by the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency and prosecution.
We will therefore not be in a position to carry out testing until a reliable test has been approved.
EXTREMELY VULNERABLE ADULTS
As you will be aware, the government has advised that anyone over the age of 70 and patients with certain medical conditions should be self-isolating for a period of 12 weeks from Monday 23rd March.
The medical conditions are:
- Solid organ transplant recipients.
- People with specific cancers:
- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
- people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
- people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
- People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
- People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
- People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
- Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
We have our own register of those who we are particularly concerned about and will continue to make regular contact with you on an individual basis. Some of you may be registered with an NHS GP and will have received a letter from the government advising you that as a member of this extremely vulnerable group that you are entitled to certain “benefits” (please see appendix 1). These include:
- Food and shopping deliveries
- Delivery of prescriptions
- Delivery or collection of hospital specialist medication
For those of you not registered with an NHS GP please be assured that you are still entitled to the benefits shown above.
If you belong to one of the above groups you can register yourself for benefits by completing the link on https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable.
If you do have any problems accessing help, then please could you let Dr Ladbrooke know and he will help steer you through the process of registration.
In addition to services provided by the government, many voluntary groups have been set up that can help with shopping, collecting prescriptions etc in our own area. For voluntary services in our area please email email@example.com.
One of our patients has emailed us with suggestions for boosting your immune system through nutrition (appendix 3) and another (a clinical child psychologist) has produced a video to help parents explain Coronavirus to their children (appendix 4).
Hopefully the next week will confirm a levelling out of infection in our area, but for now it is essential to stay indoors and maintain social distancing when outside.
On a final note, evidence has been published today showing that smokers suffer more serious lung complications of coronavirus than non-smokers. Never has there been a better time to give up smoking completely!