COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which was reported in China in December 2019 has now set off shockwaves in the global community. On 11th March 2020(1), WHO classed COVID-19 as a pandemic. And the WHO report2 on 14th March states that 1.4 million people are affected by the disease worldwide.
Though anyone can contract the illness, early researches from China have indicated that the fatality rate among the elderly with pre-existing health conditions(3) is higher. One of these conditions is diabetes, with a 9.2% fatality rate. This places Singapore at a higher risk as the National Health Survey 2010 report says that one in nine Singapore residents(4) are diabetic. And as there is no cure or vaccine yet, the easiest and only way forward is to take preventive action.
How can you prevent it?
This is one piece of information that has been repeated many times. Practice and maintain basic personal hygiene. This applies more so to those who have diabetes as they are more prone to respiratory infections like pneumonia5. Apart from this, you can follow these simple steps.(6)
- Follow the everyday precautions like washing your hands (for 20 seconds), using alcohol-based sanitisers, avoid touching your face, nose and eyes.
- When or if you go out, maintain a distance of 1 meter between you and other people. Avoid crowded areas and unnecessary travel.
- Stay at home as much as possible.
What should a person with diabetes do?
- If you are diabetic, maintain a good glycemic control
- Ensure to stock up on food that is rich in proteins and minerals
- Avoid gyms, but not exercise. Plan a home-based exercise regime to stay fit
- Ensure enough storage of medicines and other necessities
What if you get sick?
A study on diabetes and COVID-19 gives the following recommendations if COVID-19 infection is suspected:
- Be prepared and have an action plan in place for sick days.(7, 8)
- Inform your local health authorities of your symptoms
- Continue taking your insulin doses or prescribed diabetes medication
- Ensure that you have enough fluid intake
- Eat at regular intervals
- Regularly self-monitor your blood glucose
- Isolate yourself for a minimum of 14 days or till the symptoms subside. Follow the guidelines issued by the government
At the same time, keep an eye out for symptoms like cough, fever and difficulty in breathing. If you notice any of these symptoms contact your doctor immediately.
Also, remember that in times of crisis like these, there may be many channels spreading fake news. Do not heed misinformation and follow the information and instruction from credible and official channels like WHO and MOH.
- WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 11 March 2020 [Internet]. www.who.int. 2020 [cited 2020 Mar 15]. Available from: https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19—11-march-2020
- Situation Report -54 SITUATION IN NUMBERS total and new cases in last 24 hours [Internet]. World Health Organization. 2020 Mar [cited 2020 Mar 15] p. 1. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200314-sitrep-54-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=dcd46351_2
- Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) [Internet]. World Health Organisation. 2020 [cited 2020 Mar 15]. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-china-joint-mission-on-covid-19-final-report.pdf
- National Health Survey 2010, Ministry of Health, Singapore
- Gupta R, Ghosh A, Singh AK, Misra A. Clinical considerations for patients with diabetes in times of COVID-19 epidemic. Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews [Internet]. 2020 May 1 [cited 2020 Mar 15];14(3):211–212. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871402120300424?via%3Dihub
- CDC. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020 [cited 2020 Mar 15]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html
- Managing sick days for type 2 diabetes [Internet]. National Diabetes Service Scheme Australia. [cited 2020 Mar 15]. Available from: https://www.ndss.com.au/wp-content/uploads/fact-sheets/fact-sheet-managing-sick-days-for-type2.pdf
- Managing sick days for type 1 diabetes fact sheet – NDSS [Internet]. www.ndss.com.au. [cited 2020 Mar 15]. Available from: https://www.ndss.com.au/about-diabetes/resources/find-a-resource/managing-sick-days-for-type-1-diabetes-fact-sheet/