Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Updated: 17th March 2020

We appreciate that this is a concerning time with the rapidly evolving situation occurring with respect to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). As with other similar charity and healthcare organisations, HeartKids is monitoring the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation to ensure we are communicating relevant and factual information to our community. 

Many of our community have asked about the potential impact of COVID-19 on babies,children, teens and adults with CHD. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide specific advice as every heart kid, teen or adult and their family circumstances are different and there is no current evidence to say how it could affect children, teens or adults with CHD. We do advise you to follow the Australian Governments guidelines to prevent contracting the virus. 

In consultation with Prof. Celermajer (Scandrett Professor of Cardiology at the University of Sydney) and Gavin Wheaton (Medical Director, Division of Paediatric Medicine Women’s and Children’s Health Network), we have made the following observations:

  • COVID-19 causes a flu-like illness and seems to be similar or slightly more contagious than seasonal flu.

  • Early indication out of China suggests that children (especially <9 years) are either less vulnerable to getting COVID-19 or are less likely to get very sick, if they do catch the virus. They may even show no symptoms.

  • There is currently no information specific to people with CHD but those with CHD should be considered at increased risk. Overall risk should still be low for children and young adults with CHD. Some people may have other risk factors (eg heart transplant patients on immune suppression medication)

  • Precautions – consider getting the seasonal flu vaccine when it becomes available. Children, young adults and adults with CHD should be particularly mindful of the precautions prescribed for all Australians – hand hygiene, avoiding large gatherings and “social distancing” where possible.

  • Australia wide guidelines for school/work attendance should generally be observed, unless advised otherwise by your doctor.

  • If you develop symptoms of fever, cough, breathlessness, sore throat or chills, observe the Health Advisories guidelines for testing.

  • If you have specific concerns about your child please call your GP in the first instance and then consult your cardiologist if you still have concerns. 

Alternatively, you can call the general Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 . Call this line if you are seeking information on coronavirus (COVID-19). The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You can also contact the governments consumer website HealthDirect or phone 1800 022 222. They have a specific section on the coronavirus or find a local COVID-19 clinic in your State.

HeartKids urges families to regularly check the Department of Health's website to stay up to date on this situation.

Supporting you through this!

The health and welfare of our community is paramount. To ensure that we do not put any of our community at risk and in-line with hospital directives, we will be reviewing our in-hospital support services. At present HeartKids support staff in NSW, QLD and South Australia will no longer be making in-hospital visits until further notice. We will let you know the status of other hospitals as we become aware of changes to non-essential staff in hospitals.

We will also be reviewing any group activities outside of the hospital environment and in-line with the latest Government directives around social distancing. Any postponements or changes will be posted on Facebook. 

Please be assured that HeartKids will still be there to support all families during this time. We are reviewing how best to deliver our support services and making plans so that you do not feel isolated and alone during these challenging times. In the meantime please call our helpline on 1800 432 785 

To keep up to date with any announcements please follow our National and State-based Facebook pages - ACTNSW, QLDNTWASAVICTAS.

If new data becomes available for us to give you more specific advice we will let you know.

Basic Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

What is it?

Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that can cause illness in humans and animals. COVID-19 is the particular virus that is getting significant attention after an outbreak in Wuhan, China in 2019 and subsequent spread to several countries, most notably Iran, South Korea and Italy.

How do I know if I have it?

The severity of symptoms range greatly from person to person, but have the following flu like symptoms:

· Fever

· Sore throat/coughing

· Fatigue

· Shortness of breath

What can we do to prevent spreading?

COVID-19 most likely spreads from person to person by coming into contact with cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person. Not unlike all other good practices to prevent spreading sickness, regular hand washing, use of hand sanitiser and limiting close contact/touching of other people is effective in minimising the chance of getting the disease.

If you feel unwell you should seek medical attention (especially if you have recently travelled to a high risk country or been in contact with a confirmed case) and stay home until you have received appropriate medical clearance. If you do need to go out, it is recommended that you wear a surgical mask. Note that this is only effective if you are sick and want to prevent spreading it from yourself to other people. There is no benefit to wearing a mask if you are not unwell.

If you are unsure, contact your health care provider before you attend your appointment and alert them of any symptoms.