Social Distancing

One way to slow the spread of viruses is social distancing. Social distancing refers to creating physical space between yourself and others. It’s currently advised that people maintain 1.5 metres distance between each other.

“For a virus of respiratory nature, the predominate route of spread is by fine droplets which are distributed when a person coughs or sneezes. Keeping 1.5 meters distance from others reduces the risk of inhaling a fine droplet which could potentially carry the virus.”- Prof Christine Jenkins AM 

People with COVID-19 can appear well and may be unaware they have the virus, as some cases don’t show symptoms.  It is best to keep a distance from others to help minimise risk of exposure, this may include your family and friends.  

Lung Foundation Australia strongly supports the new social distancing restrictions announced by the Federal Government on 29 March 2020. Under the new restrictions people over 70, or over 60 living with a pre-existing condition, or indigenous people aged over 50 are to stay home wherever possible.  

To stay up to date with the latest announcements and for other resources, download the Australian Government  Coronavirus App – available through the Apple apps store and Google Play. 

How to maintain social distancing

  • Stay at home as much as possible. If you do have to go out, keep a distance of 1.5 metres from others. 
  • Avoid using public transport where possible. 
  • Ask people in your life who may be unwell to minimise contact with you. 
  • Children can spread a range of respiratory infections and only display mild symptoms – whilst you may wish to help with taking care of grandchildren, you need to consider whether this is suitable during this time. 
  • Ask family and friends for help to minimise your exposure but assisting with picking up your groceries or medication if delivery is not available for you.  
  • Call your doctor for check-ups via telephone or video conferences, if suitable. 
  • Work from home if you can.  
  • Practice good hygiene by frequently washing your hands with soap and water. 

Socialising

  • Think about using other methods to socialise, such as telephone, email and social media to stay in touch with family, friends and neighbours. 
  • Plan to contact family and friends on different days so your social interactions can be spaced out across the week. 
  • Be creative: plan to watch television shows at the same time as friends and have a telephone conversation about it afterwards. 
  • If you are feeling socially isolated, don’t wait for someone to contact you – call a friend or a family member and discuss how you are feeling.  

If you need to talk to someone urgently, Lifeline provides 24-hour crisis telephone counselling on 13 11 14. 

We understand this is a difficult time for everyone which is only made harder by not being able to spend time with those closest to you. We have created a suite of information and resources to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing during this time.  

 

Latest news

Lung Foundation Australia strongly supports the new social distancing restrictions announced by the Federal Government on 29 March 2020. Under the new restrictions people over 70, or over 60 living with a pre-existing condition, or indigenous people aged over 50 are to stay home wherever possible for their own protection.

Now is the time to prioritise your health and practice social distancing precautions. To help with these measures, home delivery of medication and groceries are either available now or launching soon to support priority Australians. Visit the following links for the most up-to-date information on these services.

Helpful links:

If these services are not yet available in your region, contact family and friends to see if they help by purchasing essential supplies on your behalf during this time.
To stay up-to-date with the latest announcements and for other resources, download the Australian Government Coronavirus App. Available through the Apple apps store and Google Play.

Living with a lung condition and working

We encourage all Australians living with a lung condition to prioritise their health at this time. If you are living with a lung condition and are unable to work from home, speak with your employer about the measures that are being put in place to protect employees. Visit  Safe Work Australia website for advice for workers, along with information for employers and preparing workplaces.

What to have at home 

  • An up-to-date Action Plan developed with your treating doctor to help you recognise when symptoms of your condition worsen and steps to manage them.  If you don’t have an action plan, download a template and organise an appointment with your doctor to work through it:  
  • An adequate supply of in-date medication – consult with your pharmacist. According to Medicines Australia, there is an adequate supply of medications in Australia to meet community needs, so there is no need to stockpile. Any potential issues relating to supply of essential medications will be addressed if they arise.  
  • Have current prescriptions for your regular medications on hand.  
  • If you require oxygen cylinders to manage your condition, contact your supplier and ask them to inform you of their supply and create a plan to continue to deliver oxygen to you during this time.  
  • Have a small stock of non-perishable groceries (i.e. canned goods and frozen foods) on hand so you are prepared if you are required to stay at home for an extended period, however, it is not necessary to stockpile. 
  • Supplies to keep your hands (i.e. soap, alcohol-based hand sanitiser) and home (i.e. disinfectant, cleaning cloths) clean.   
  • Other hygiene items such as toilet paper, tissues and feminine care products.    
  • Take note of other medical supplies you may need such as contact lenses, contact solution, hearing-aid batteries and over-the-counter medicines like pain relief.  

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What’s the difference between self-isolation and social distancing?

    These words have sprung into everyone’s vocabulary in the last few months, but what’s the difference? Both are important measures to help protect yourself and others from COVID-19 and to slow down the spread of the virus. Social distancing is about maintaining spatial distance between yourself and other people to help reduce the chance of transmitting the virus. The Government currently recommends 1.5 metres distance between people, and to allow at least 4 square metres of space per person indoors. As the issue unfolds, these measures may change. Self-isolation means staying in your home at all times to reduce physical contact with anyone, unless absolutely necessary. Experts strongly advise anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or might have been exposed to self-isolate for 14 days. 

  • How should I define essential and non-essential activities?

    Think about the things that you really can’t go without – groceries, medicine and medical appointments. Some things might feel essential to you, even if they’re non-essential, such as seeing your grandkids. Remember, this is only a temporary situation. It’s important to consider all your interactions during this time and think about alternative ways you may be able to stay connected. Embrace technology and ask your family and friends to help you set up things like Facetime or other apps so you can feel connected. 

  • Should I use social distancing or self-isolation if I have a lung disease but am otherwise feeling well?  

    If you have a pre-existing lung condition, you’re at a heightened risk of serious illness if you contract a virus such as COVID-19. Social distancing and self-isolation are the most effective ways of preventing the spread. Lung Foundation Australia strongly supports the new social distancing restrictions announced by the Federal Government on 29 March 2020. Under the new restrictions people over 70, or over 60 living with a pre-existing condition, or indigenous people aged over 50 are to stay home wherever possible.  It’s important to remember that people who have COVID-19 don’t always display symptoms. 

    If you do have to go out for an essential reason: 

    • Practice social distancing vigilantly 
    • Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often – if you can’t access soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser 
    • Avoid touching things in public spaces as much as possible, particularly things like shopping trollies and door handles 
    • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes. 

     

  • Can I still go to work and grocery shop if I’m practising social distancing? 

    Home delivery of medication and groceries are either available now or launching soon to support vulnerable Australians in staying home during this time. Visit the following links for the most up-to-date information on these services. 

    If these services are not yet available in your region, contact family and friends to see if they help by purchasing essential supplies on your behalf during this time. If you must go out, ensure you practice social distancing, avoid high-touch areas such as shopping trolleys and door handles, avoid touching your face, and was your hands thoroughly when you get home. 

  • Should I be going to work? 

     If you are living with a lung condition and are unable to work from home, speak with your employer about the measures that are being put in place to protect employees. Visit Safe Work Australia website for advice for workers, along with information for employers and preparing workplaces. 

  • How do I raise it with people if they’re not practicing social distancing around me?

    It’s important you put your health first and this might mean talking to your friends and family about what you need from them during this time. If people need to visit your home, ask them to wash their hands thoroughly on arriving, maintain physical distance from you and avoid touching anything unnecessarily.

    We’ve developed a poster that you can hang on your front door as a reminder to anyone who might be entering your home. Download now. 

  • Do you need to get tested if you are living with someone who is in self-isolation?

    Your doctor will tell you if you should be tested and they will arrange for the test to happen.

    You will only be tested if your doctor decides you meet the criteria:

    • You have returned from overseas in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness with or without fever
    • You have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness with or without fever
    • You have severe community-acquired pneumonia and there is no clear cause
    • You are a healthcare worker who works directly with patients and you have a respiratory illness and a fever.

    For more information on testing criteria, view here.

  • Does my carer/family going out to purchase supplies on my behalf compromise my position? (ie could become infected within community)  

    If possible, ask a family member or friend who doesn’t live with you to purchase supplies on your behalf, and ask them to leave them outside your door to minimise your physical contact with that person. If a carer/family member who lives with you does have to go out to purchase supplies, ensure they are: 

    • Practicing social distancing vigilantly 
    • Washing hands with soap and water thoroughly and often or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser 
    • Avoid touching things in public spaces as much as possible 
    • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes. 

    Only household members who are essential for caring for you should stay in the home. Consider: 

    • Staying in a different room from them, or be separated as much as possible 
    • Use a separate bathroom, if available 
    • Avoid shared or communal areas as much as possible. 

    Other people living in the home should consider staying elsewhere if possible. Surfaces in shared areas such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, toilets, faucets and sinks should be cleaned daily with household disinfectant or a diluted bleach solution – wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly afterwards. Clean and disinfect telephones and mobiles and keyboards – wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly afterwards.

  • When social distancing is the new norm and access to respiratory specialists is more problematic or restricted, how can I feel confident my lung disease is under control?
    • Try and stay as well as possible – eat well, exercise (i.e. a home-based exercise program), rest when you can, ensure you’re getting enough sleep, avoid going out where possible 
    • Schedule your consultations via the telephone or videoconference – all specialists are now offering this service 
    • Follow your current written action plan developed with your treating doctor to help you recognise when symptoms of your lung condition worsen and the steps to manage them. If your plan is out of date or you do not have one, call your GP or treating healthcare team and ask whether they can complete one with you over the telephone. 
COVID-19 Door Poster
Those living with lung disease or lung cancer are at higher risk of contracting a severe case of COVID-19. This poster, to be placed at the entry of a residence or workplace identifies that someone within the premises is living with a lung condition and requests that those entering undertake extra precautions.
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