5 tips for staying safe with diabetes during COVID-19
People with diabetes are no more likely to get COVID-19 than anyone else. However, just as with the common flu, having diabetes can put you at greater risk of developing serious complications. The good news is that there are several things you can do to keep yourself as safe as possible during this pandemic.
1. Keep up with the handwashing!
To protect against infection and prevent the virus spreading it is essential to practise good hygiene:
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after eating, after going to the toilet and after coming back to your home
- cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
- put used tissues straight into the bin
- use alcohol-based hand sanitisers
- avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces such as benchtops, desks and doorknobs
- clean and disinfect frequently used objects such as mobile phones, keys and your wallet.
2. Be prepared
People living with diabetes should have a personalised sick day action plan and a sick day management kit ready to use at the earliest sign of illness. If you don’t have one, now is a good time to put one together. Your diabetes health care team can help. You can download a factsheet on managing diabetes when you are sick here (for people with type 1 diabetes) and here (for people type 2 diabetes).
Your sick day management kit should include:
- A copy of your sick day action plan
- A spare blood glucose meter
- Extra blood glucose test strips
- Extra blood ketone test strips (urine test strips)
- A blood glucose diary
- A thermometer
- Pain relief such as Panadol or Nurofen
- Hydralyte or Gastrolyte
- Food and drink for sick days, including hypoglycaemia treatment
- Extra insulin scripts
- Insulin syringes or spare insulin pen (if using insulin)
- Telephone numbers for medical support and family/friend support
- Medicare number, NDSS number and health insurance details
3. Get a flu shot
There is no vaccine for COVID-19 yet, but you can get vaccinated against the seasonal flu. This year it’s more important than ever to keep yourself, your family and your community safe, so book your flu shot today. It’s free for people with diabetes.
4. Know what’s new
In response to COVID-19 the Australian Government has introduced telehealth services. These allow people to have health consultations without leaving home. Access to these Medicare-funded telehealth services is available from 30 March 2020 until 30 September 2020 and all services will be bulk billed. Contact your GP or visit the Department of Health website to find out more.
The Australian Government has additionally suspended the requirement for people with type 2 diabetes to complete the Blood Glucose Test Strip (BGTS) Six Month Approval form to receive subsidised access to blood glucose test strips. Effective from 3 April 2020, an automatic six-month extension will be provided for all people with type 2 diabetes not using insulin.
To keep up to date with what’s new, visit:
5. Stay connected
The NDSS National Helpline is available on 1800 637 700 from 8:30am-8:00pm Monday to Friday and 9:00am-2:00pm on Saturday. Call this number to talk to a health professional about managing your diabetes, get advice on specific diabetes information related to COVID-19 or to discuss access to NDSS products and diabetes medications.