Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Breast Cancer Patients, Survivors, and Family Members Need to Know
The World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a Pandemic, on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
“A pandemic is a global epidemic — an epidemic that spreads to more than one continent,” says Dan Epstein, a spokesman for the Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization.
So what are the symptoms of COVID-19, who are at a higher risk, and what precautionary steps can be taken to limit exposure to love ones and others?
- Shortness of breath
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all-inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
Higher Risk Individuals:
- Older adults, 65 years and older
- People who have serious underlying medical conditions like:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Cancer Patients*
- Pregnant women
- People with HIV
*Cancer patients who finished treatment a few years ago or longer have immune systems that have most likely recovered, but each person is different. It’s important that all cancer patients and survivors, whether currently in treatment or not, talk with a doctor who understands their situation and medical history.
Precautionary Steps Everyone Should Take:
- Clean your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Wear a facemask if you are sick
- If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
- If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
- Clean and disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
For the latest information, including more detailed responses to some common questions, please visit the following websites: