17 April 2020
UPDATED: Coronavirus - COVID-19 & Lymphoma
Lymphoma Australia Statement Around Coronavirus - COVID-19
LAST UPDATED: 17 April 2020
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has received major coverage across the media. This has raised many questions and concerns
about what precautions those affected by lymphoma should be taking to help
prevent contracting the virus. The
concerns are understandable, and Lymphoma Australia have included the following
facts, where you can receive reliable information to keep yourself and family as
healthy as possible to prevent becoming infected.
A/Prof Chan Cheah - Lymphoma and COVID-19 - what does this mean??
STAY HOME - community message from Lymphoma patients and families
Dr Jason Butler - Lymphoma/CLL and COVID-19 - an update for patients and families
Lymphoma/CLL and Coronavirus COVID-19
Lymphoma and CLL compromises your immune system. This makes you at a higher risk of
contracting viruses and infections, including coronavirus. You are only at risk if you were to come into
contact with someone who is infected with coronavirus.
While coronavirus is of concern, it is important to remember that most
people who show symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or tiredness are
likely suffering with a cold or other respiratory illness and not
coronavirus. However, some patients who
become infected with coronavirus do not show signs of infection. It is
important that if you have a compromised immune system that standard
precautions need to be taken which you should already be doing to keep healthy.
People who have lymphoma or CLL are at a higher
risk, especially when:
- Receiving chemotherapy, or who
have received chemotherapy in the last 3-12 months
Receiving immunotherapy or other
continuing antibody treatments for cancer
Receiving other targeted cancer
treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase
inhibitors (eg.ibrutinib, venetoclax)
Those who have had a bone marrow
or stem cell transplant in the last 6-12 months, or who are still taking
People with lymphoma or chronic
lymphocytic leukaemia which can damage the immune system, even if they have not
needed treatment or are in remission with a compromised immune system.
Patients who are receiving IVIG (immunoglobulins)
are receiving these as your immune system is compromised.
If you have a low-grade
lymphoma/CLL and have not had treatment you are at a lower risk than someone
who has had treatment, although you need to be diligent with infection
People who are over 65 years or
have co-morbidities (eg. Cardiovascular disease, lung disease or diabetes)
speak to your doctor to know your individual risk
Precautions to help prevent infection from viruses or infections:
Regular hand washing with soap and water – especially before eating or after using the toilet
- Carry hand sanitizer when out of the house
- Covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing – use your elbow rather than your hand
- Avoid touching your face
- Avoid close contact with anyone showing signs or symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing
- Reduce close contact if unsure of others including hand shaking, touching, kissing and hugging
- Staying away from crowded public places where possible
- Good hygiene habits
- Eat a healthy balanced diet to help strengthen your immunity
- Thoroughly cook meat and eggs
Should you wear a face mask?
You do not need to wear a mask if you are healthy. The use of face masks is currently not recommended
for the prevention of infection like coronavirus. Those who have a respiratory infection should
wear a mask to prevent virus from spreading to others when coughing. Healthcare professionals may wear between
patients so as to protect themselves.
Lymphoma Australia Patient and Carer Education
Lymphoma Australia have been monitoring the coronavirus updates and
recommendations and at this point in time our scheduled patient events in March and April will not be
going ahead as planned. This includes our national awareness walks Legs Out for Lymphoma, that has been postponed. We will continue to update
you of changes.
We ask you to please stay home
if you are feeling unwell or have recently returned from a high-risk area.
Any questions or concerns please email:
Lymphoma Australia is not able to
give specific advice about attending or cancelling a booked holiday due to
coronavirus. We suggest that you check
the Australian government website for advice about foreign travel, that is
updated regularly (see link below).
If you are concerned about the
possible risk of infection around travel, we suggest that you speak to your
medical team for specific advice. Lymphoma compromises your immune system, and this means you need to take
extra care, especially while travelling. You could be exposed to new infections in other parts of the world or
while enclosed in a plane, where these can be difficult for your body to
fight. Remember that even if you are in
remission (no evidence of lymphoma), you may still have a weakened immune
We would always suggest that you take
out appropriate travel insurance for all holidays and check the exclusions and
cancellation terms for any policies you have.
For more information see the Australian Government Health