COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update Q&A

Updated: 26th March 2020

With borders closing, changes at hospitals, reduction of elective surgeries and social distancing, this rapidly evolving situation occurring with respect to COVID-19 (Coronovirus) is all very unsettling. Please if you are feeling uncertain, anxious or just want to talk to someone call:

HeartKids Helpline on 1800 432 785.

Those engaging on Facebook and the support group is exactly what we need to be doing right now - coming together as a community that helps and supports each other. We also are wanting to ensure that any information we have for you on COVID-19 & CHD have been verified by Australian Cardiologists. The information we have received is still consistent with what has been previously posted. Below you will find some general Q&As relating to COVID-19 and CHD.

Things are changing quickly and recommendations may change based on new data.

What is COVID-19? COVID-19 is a new disease that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person to person. COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

What is known about how COVID-19 affects children and adults? Information from other countries suggests that children may not be as severely affected by COVID-19 as adults. In China, out of over 2000 children infected, there were 13 critical cases and 1 death. We continue to learn more as data are shared and released. However, older adults and those with cardiovascular disease may be more likely to have severe COVID-19 symptoms and become very ill when infected. This is particularly true for adults with uncontrolled heart conditions such as congestive heart failure, hypertension (high blood pressure), or coronary artery disease, and for those with chronic lung conditions which occur in CHD patients (like asthma or pulmonary hypertension). Learn more about people with asthma and COVID-19.

What is known about how COVID-19 affects those with congenital heart disease? Unfortunately, no data on COVID-19 is available at this time on children or adults with congenital heart disease. Having CHD should not increase the chance of becoming infected. CHD is currently considered a condition that can potentially increase the risk of COVID-19 becoming severe, particularly among those who are older and those who are severely affected by their CHD (e.g. have severe congestive heart failure or chronic lung conditions). Having other chronic conditions such as diabetes may also increase this risk. In other words, people at higher risk for severe influenza (flu) infection are thought to also be at higher risk for severe COVID-19. Talk to your heart doctor if you are unsure whether you are at high risk of severe COVID-19.

What can I do to stay healthy? The best way to stay healthy is to prevent infection as much as possible. Washing hands, practicing social distancing (avoiding crowded places and staying 1.5 meters or further from others when in public), touching your face as little as possible, and staying at home as much as possible are all good practices at the current time, especially for households with a family member with CHD. There are no specific medications or supplements confirmed to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, following general guidelines of eating healthy and getting enough sleep are helpful. It is important to stay up to date on all vaccinations including pneumonia vaccine and influenza. For those who take medications, it is advised to ask your pharmacy for extra medication or to order more medication by mail. Consider a 2-week supply of prescription and over the counter medications, food and other essentials. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about any of your medications. There has been some concern about certain medications worsening COVID19.

Should I go to work if I or someone in my family has CHD? If you are concerned that you may be at high risk for severe COVID-19, it is important to speak with a supervisor and/or occupational health person about your concerns. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual in case of a community outbreak. There may be options to telecommute or to request avoiding certain duties as a health precaution.

What should I do if I feel like I have symptoms? If you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, call your GP for instructions for when to seek care or testing, unless your cardiologist has instructed otherwise. Stay at home except to get medical care and separate yourself as much as possible from family and friends. People with CHD may already experience shortness of breath and have a bluish tint to their skin, lips and fingernails. If any of these symptoms worsen or if you or your family member with CHD begin to have trouble breathing or develop bluish lips or face, chest pain or pressure, confusion, or any other severe or worsened symptoms, call 000 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

All of this is stressing me out.are there any resources to help me cope? The outbreak of COVID-19 may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. Managing risk, fear, and uncertainty in an evolving pandemic is difficult, and maintaining your emotional wellbeing is important. However, there are things you can do to help reduce your stress.

Maintain a schedule, even while staying at home. Get exercise, eat healthy foods regularly, and get enough sleep. Additionally, connect with family and friends through phone and video chatting. For more on how to manage things read the Governments Head to Health Support page.

If you, or someone you care about, feel overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or if you feel like you want to harm yourself or others, please call 000 or
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 80
Confidential Helpline: 1800 737 732
Mensline: 1300 78 99 78
Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277

Other useful links: