Dear all , this is a difficult and stressful time for all- whether patients, families or health providers, united also by a risk of catching the same virus that has plagued many areas of the world.

For many this will be a common cold experience. for some, a more significant health event. At a community level common sense ‘social distancing’ (> 1.5 m) and hand washing are our best defences against a (too) rapid escalation of the infection in Melbourne. The slower the rate of infection, the better chance hospitals and GP practices will have to help you. I think working from home if feasible is wise for all and minimising public exposure particularly in groups.

At a personal level, this is stressful for everyone. Be compassionate and supportive of friends and strangers. If you are age >70, have a chronic condition or have a weakened immune system there is the opportunity through Medicare to videoconference or phone conference appointments whilst this crisis lasts. We may utimately encourage all patients to avail themselves of this service while the crisis lasts. Please email or call us to discuss this in more detail.

I would recommend those elderly patients or those on chemotherapy or with advanced cancer go to greater lengths to physically isolate at home when you can. Have one or two key family or friends who can provide support including delivery of essentials. Stay connected with others via the phone or Facetime or Facebook. Join an on-line book club or watch music or shows on line. Keep up physical exercise with regular walks, gardening. Please update your influenza vaccination.

Regarding my patients on follow-up who would be regarded as being in remission, I would regard your risk of serious infection as the same as others with the same age and health. I would suggest you take the usual precautions we should all take.

The situation is fluid and we can keep you updated on this website. There is an informative webinar posted on Youtube by my infectious disease colleague Assoc Prof Pat Charles