Advice for Donegal cancer patients concerned about Coronavirus

Cancer patients are particularly susceptible due to weakened immune systems

Advice for Donegal cancer patients concerned about Coronavirus

While people in Donegal are keeping an eye on news about the spread of COVID-19, those undergoing cancer treatment are particularly concerned.

As with any infection, the Coronavirus  strain COVID-19 virus is more likely to progress at a greater speed in a cancer patient. It is important to seek the expert opinion of a cancer doctor at an early stage, and to intervene early so as to best deal with the impacts of falling ill.

Presenting at emergency departments is not recommended due to the high likelihood of coming into contact with other infections in such areas, as well as the possibility of an infection being transmitted to other individuals.

If a patient develops signs of infection such as high temperature, coughing or shortness of breath, they should make contact with their oncology unit through the liaison phone number they have been given.  Oncology units also have doctors on-call around the clock whom patients can contact through the hospital switchboard, and have a doctor call them back. 

Failing this, patients should contact their GP or out-of-hours medical service who will be best able to advise on how to manage and treat symptoms, and whether they could be due to COVID-19 infection.  

The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) is advising anyone impacted by cancer about steps they can take to reduce their risk of catching the virus. 

The society recommends that patients who are currently undergoing or have recently received treatment for cancer, as well as their friends and family members, should be particularly mindful of the risks and consequences associated with COVID-19.

There are steps that can be taken to reduce the chances of infection occurring from COVID-19 and from other airborne infections such as colds and flu. These types of commonplace infection can also be much more serious for those affected by cancer treatment.

Steps include:

  • Regular and thorough use of handwashing and alcohol-based handwashes when in contact with other people, before eating or touching the face, or before entering the home.
  • Being more careful about close contact with others outside of partners and immediate family members, such as by avoiding shaking hands.
  • Being more cautious around public events or larger gatherings which might bring the patient into contact with people who may be at higher risk of carrying the infection.
  • Ensuring that visitors are aware that those affected by cancer are particularly susceptible to infection, and kindly requesting them not to visit if they are displaying any symptoms of illness, such as elevated temperature, coughing, sneezing, headache, etc.
  • Limiting contact with people who have travelled to Ireland in the past 14 days from areas where the virus is thought to be in circulation, for example, northern Italy.

The Irish Cancer Society continues to be available to provide support and information on this matter or any other queries related to cancer through its Freephone Nurseline on 1800 200 700. People can also get information at the Daffodil Centre at Letterkenny University Hospital, or through any of the 12 other hospital-based Daffodil Centres around the country.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Live editorial team any time. To contact Donegal Democrat and Donegal People's Press, email editorial@donegaldemocrat.ie To contact Donegal Post, email editor@donegalpost.com To contact Inish Times, email editor@inishtimes.com.

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