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- If you get a positive Covid-19 result, you will be told to isolate at home, no matter how fit you feel. NSW Health officers will contact you to talk about your health. You will receive regular police checks to ensure you are isolating.
- Your GP will be contacted too, if you have named them on your Covid-19 testing forms. If you are not ill enough to be transferred to hospital, which is about 80 per cent of cases, you can still expect to be monitored by health professionals, usually by telephone. If you don’t feel you are getting enough information, you can ring your GP, or ring your local major teaching hospital and ask for ‘the duty public health officer’. They can either discuss your case and your management or give you information about who you should speak to next.
- Is English your second language? If so, you are able to request an interpreter. This can be done through the Australian Government’s website but the hospital looking after you will help you with this too. Remember, if you are to be hospitalised, your family members can’t be present to help interpret for you.
- Are you avoiding contact with the medical profession because your household composition makes it difficult to isolate? Discuss this with the contact tracers and NSW Health when they ring. They have services at hand to help deal with this situation.
- About 17 per cent of people with covid-19 have no symptoms at all, according to an Australian study. This is in contrast to other research which suggests the figure is 42 per cent. The background debate about this is discussed in the RACGP’s NewsGP. If the subtle differences between individuals is not clear to scientists, don’t feel embarrassed about asking your GP or other doctors for further explanations and reassurance.
- If you are one of the 80 per cent who only has a mild illness, this is likely to include coughing, fever and shortness of breath. Shortness of breath at this stage can be tricky. Is it associated with the shortness of breath that comes from the more serious developments that occur in some people – maybe pneumonia and ARDS, or is it harmless? Sometimes, although rarely, you can feel quite normal, even though you are not getting enough oxygen.
- To help distinguish this, you can use a pulse oximeter which you place on the end of your finger. Usually, this will have been delivered by NSW Health even if by post. If you haven’t been given one, they can be purchased at a chemist shop.
- The chills, aches and pains and other symptoms of the early stages of Covid-19 can develop into pneumonia in about 15 per cent of people. This is an infection in the lungs and is a complication of respiratory illnesses. Symptoms of pneumonia can include muscle and body aches, shortness of breath, dizziness and heavy sweating. The sufferer is usually much sicker than they were with the similar but not so serious symptoms earlier in the course of the disease. If you think you might have developed these symptoms ring the ambulance on 000 immediately. The development of pneumonia means that you are likely to need oxygen. Sometimes this is delivered with nasal prongs or an oxygen mask, depending on the level of hypoxia. For a range of reasons, oxygen delivery is done differently for Covid-19 patients. You are too sick at this point to manage this yourself. Trained hospital staff can and they have the equipment to make records of your condition for continuous monitoring.
- Other illnesses, such as heart disease, and diabetes will be impacted by your Covid-19 illness. Being obese will also increase your risk of becoming sicker. So with all of these conditions have a low threshold for deciding when to contact the ambulance. If communication is difficult, tell them the names of the medications you were on before you got sick with Covid-19.
- About five per cent of those who develop Covid-19 related pneumonia or need to be hospitalised for shortness of breath will develop more serious conditions, such as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.
In Australia, if your symptoms get to the point where you are frightened they are life threatening don’t ring a GP or your local hospital. Ring 000. Ambulance NSW paramedics are trained and equipped to transport you to hospital if this is needed – or to treat you at home if you are well enough, and then to ensure you get access to the health services you need.
…And the numbers of deaths at home grow, with three more announced since we published yesterday, on the NSW Covid Statistics website.