Health Check

Diabetes and COVID-19

While this is a challenging time for all of us, people with diabetes may be feeling particularly vulnerable.

Written by Editor Medibank

A lot has been written on the seriousness of COVID-19 for people with underlying health concerns, so if you have diabetes it’s understandable if you’re feeling an increased sense of worry. Here’s some information and resources that may help.

COVID-19

By now you’ve probably been made aware of the symptoms of this new virus. They include fever, coughing, a sore throat and shortness of breath. While most people recover easily, some get very sick and people with diabetes have been flagged as a group with an increased risk of further complications from COVID-19.

More information about COVID-19 can be found on The Department of Health website.

How to protect yourself

We can all help prevent the spread of the virus by following good hygiene methods, practicing social distancing and being aware of any official announcements and advice.

Stay up to date with your check-ups

Even though it may seem like COVID-19 is ruling many aspects of our lives, it’s important to keep up with your regular appointments. There has been an alarming drop in people presenting for their regular diabetes check-ups during the pandemic. Diabetes Australia, The Australian Diabetic Society and the Royal College of General Practitioners are urging all people with diabetes to maintain their routine pathology tests and check-ups to avoid the risk of long-term damage.

If you’re concerned about keeping your distance you should be able to access some services through telehealth consultations, where you can speak with your doctor or health professional via video while you stay home. You should contact your health provider to discuss your options.

Important information about medicines

The Australian Government has advised there are no national shortages of National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) products or insulin or other diabetes-related medicines. Diabetes Australia has also been encouraging people not to stockpile medications or products. In recent weeks however, there have been high orders for NDSS products and some people are ordering more than they would normally need. This has resulted in short term out of stock scenarios in some pharmacies.

To address this, a temporary measure has been introduced restricting orders to 3 boxes of products including blood glucose monitoring strips, urine monitoring strips, pen needles and syringes.

There will also be a 2-box limit on insulin pump consumables (IPCs) for any order including:

  • 2 x boxes of infusion sets or cannulas (an average supply for two months)
  • 2 x boxes of reservoirs/ cartridges (an average supply for two months)

For most people with diabetes, these limits represent well over one month’s supply.

To make it easier for people with type 2 diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic the Australian Government is also suspending the requirements for a Blood Glucose Test Strip Six Month Approval form. Effective from 3 April 2020, an automatic six-month extension will be provided for all people with type 2 diabetes not using insulin.

Access to continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and Flash GM (FreeStyle Libre) products through the NDSS remain unchanged.

You can visit the Therapeutic Goods Administration website for the latest information about the availability of diabetes medicines.

Home delivery of medicine

People considered vulnerable including those with chronic conditions such as diabetes are eligible for free delivery of medicines up to 500 grams.

Check with your local pharmacy to see if they are offering this service.

If you’re worried, anxious or needing to talk

Social distancing may leave you feeling alone or shut off from the world. But it’s important to remember even when you’re keeping your distance help is just a phone call away. We know this is a scary time for many, so if you’re worried or want to talk to someone you can reach out to any of the below.

To speak with a diabetes health professional, contact the NDSS support line on 1800 637 700.

24/7 Medibank Nurse Phone Service If you’re a Medibank member with hospital cover* you can also call our 24/7 Medibank Nurse Phone Service to speak to a qualified health professional about your concerns on 1800 789 414.

Medibank Mental Health Phone Support If you would like to speak to a mental health professional, Medibank's Mental Health Phone Support is also available to Medibank members with hospital cover*, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 789 414.

*OSHC members should contact the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.

Beyond Blue has also introduced a Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service you can contact on 1800 512 348.

Written by Editor Medibank

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