UPDATED: 8.00AM THURSDAY 9 APRIL 2020

Do you have questions about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and what it may mean for you or someone you know who has asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

We have been receiving a number of questions regarding the virus and its implications for people with respiratory conditions. Here are some commonly asked questions and answers. We will continue to update this as more information is released.

Should you have any other questions regarding COVID-19 or would like to discuss your asthma or COPD with one of our Respiratory Health Educators, please give us a call on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) or email ask@asthmawa.org.au

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do to prepare for the Coronavirus and the flu season?

I have asthma:

  • Keep taking your usual medications as prescribed. Make an appointment to see your GP to review your asthma if you still have asthma symptoms. Do not wait until you have cold and flu, get control now.
  • Always carry your reliever medication with you.
  • Check your asthma medications are in date and have not expired as well as other asthma equipment such as your spacer.
  • Familiarise yourself with your Asthma Action Plan and see your GP if it needs updating.
  • Keep up to date with your vaccinations.
  • Download our ‘Take Control of your Asthma’

I have COPD:

  • Keep taking your usual medication as prescribed.
  • If you are living with COPD, be very vigilant about hygiene and follow social distancing recommendations.
  • Follow your COPD management plan. If you don’t have one see your GP and ask for one.
  • Check your medications are in date and have not expired. Talk to your GP about getting your flu and pneumococcal vaccinations.

If you would like more information on how to manage your asthma and/or COPD call Asthma WA on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462).

If you are feeling unwell and suspect you may have COVID-19, before attending any appointments call ahead to talk through your symptoms and find out what you need to do. Please do not expose others to your condition.

Should I also be wearing a face mask to protect myself?

Wearing a face mask is only helpful in preventing people with a virus, from spreading it to others. According to the Department of Health if you are well, you do not need to wear a surgical mask.

There is little evidence that widespread use of surgical masks in healthy people prevents transmission in public.

Are some people at higher risk than others?

In Australia, the people most at risk of getting COVID-19 are those who have:

  • been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • recently been in in a high risk country or region

Based on what we know about coronaviruses, those most at risk of serious infection are:

  • people with compromised immune systems (such as people who have cancer)
  • elderly people
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • people with diagnosed chronic medical conditions such as lung diseases or diabetes
  • people who smoke

While there hasn’t been a great deal of research on smoking and COVID-19, it is important to remember that people who smoke are generally at a higher risk of respiratory tract infections. To learn more about COVID-19 and smoking visit Quit.

Is there a shortage of asthma medications?

Asthma WA is aware that some people are experiencing difficulty accessing their asthma medications.

We understand that some local pharmacies may have limited stocks of some popular products and are awaiting restocking from the pharmaceutical company’s warehouses located on the east coast. These warehouses are reporting they have plenty of stock available.

Unfortunately, we do not supply or provide access to medications, however we can help you with spacers and other asthma equipment. We are working closely with pharmacies but cannot advise on local area availability.

It is important to note that Asthma WA does not support bulk purchases or hoarding.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration have released a media statement outlining changes that have been made to the restriction of sales of certain medications, including Ventolin, to assist with the local shortages that are affecting people.

Is COVID-19 worse for people with asthma?

At this stage it is unknown with certainty if the COVID-19 is worse for those with asthma. As this is an evolving situation, we know that there are currently investigations looking into how COVID-19 affects people with asthma.

If you have asthma and you contract COVID-19 the virus could cause respiratory symptoms, leading to an asthma flare-up. This is the same for children, adults and the elderly.

Is Asthma WA recommending that kids be taken out of school or childcare?

Asthma WA is following the advice from the Australian Government regarding schools and childcare centres.

According to the Australian Government Department of Health, the risk to children and babies and the role children play in transmitting COVID-19, is not yet clear.

Asthma WA does recommend that if your child is unwell to keep them home to help limit the spread of viruses.

Making sure your child’s asthma is well managed now is the key. Keep managing your child’s asthma as you usually would and make an appointment for an asthma review. Ask for a written asthma action plan and make sure you know how to follow it.

If you are worried, give Asthma WA a call 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) to book a free appointment with one of our Respiratory Health Educators.

I had asthma as child and now get mild occasional symptoms- is my asthma going to come back if I get the virus?

The symptoms of asthma can occur at any stage of life, even if you have been symptom free for a long period of time. Asthma can be triggered by many things including colds, flus and viruses.

If you have occasional asthma symptoms, now is a good time to see your GP for an asthma review.

Will I need two vaccinations for influenza this year?

The recommendation is for one Flu Vaccine per year. There is insufficient data to support 2 vaccinations in one year. Except for patients who have had organ or stem cell transplant in that year. If you have any further queries related to this, please discuss with your GP. You should have the Flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available at your GP practice or Pharmacy.

Am I more likely to catch the COVID-19 because I have asthma and/or COPD?

You are not more susceptible to catching the Coronavirus if you have asthma and/or COPD.

Will the flu vaccination protect me from COVID-19?

The flu is a contagious respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses. It can affect the nose, throat and lungs.  It is not the same as the common cold, or COVID-19 but it will protect you against influenza.

My child usually only takes their preventer seasonally- should they be starting to take it again now?

If you have been prescribed a preventer to be taken seasonally, we suggest that you visit your GP for an asthma review to discuss when the best time to commence your preventer. Please do not wait until you are showing asthma symptoms.

Should Corticosteroids be avoided?

If you have read that people should avoid taking steroids in the treatment of COVID-19 please be aware that this refers to ORAL corticosteroids and does not include INHALED corticosteroids.

It is important that people that are prescribed inhaled corticosteroids (a key component of most preventer medications) continue to do so. These medications are helping to reduce inflammation in the lungs that occurs with people that have asthma and are also working to reduce your sensitivity towards triggers.

Unless your GP has advised you to or it is a part of your asthma action plan, do not take oral steroids. Oral Steroids should only be taken if it is part of your action plan or they have been prescribed by your GP or Specialist. These medications work on the whole body, not just the lungs, and if you have COVID-19 they may slow down recovery.