COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system. As an asbestos related disease (ARD) sufferer, this is likely to cause you concern. An ARD puts you at an increased risk of becoming seriously unwell from COVID-19. It is vital that you keep up to date with information and guidance published by the NHS and the Government. Complying with this guidance will assist in keeping you safe and minimise the risk of you coming into contact with the virus.
You will have concerns about your own safety and the safety of those in your household. It is important to reduce your exposure to the virus as much as possible.
You should avoid face-to-face interaction with your friends and family outside of your household until further notice. It is important to:
• Regularly wash your hands with soap;
• Ensure all members of your household are regularly washing their hands with soap;
• Regularly clean objects and surface you touch often (door handles, kettles, telephones etc.);
• Clean a shared bathroom after each use;
• Ensure any carer is regularly washing their hands
If you are living with mesothelioma or lung cancer, or are undergoing active chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy, you will be considered an ‘extremely vulnerable person’. If you fall into this category, you should not leave your home at all. You should also stay at least 2 metres away from other people in your home.
If you are a pleural thickening or an asbestosis sufferer, you should only leave your home in very limited circumstances; to shop for basic necessities (as infrequently as possible), for one hour of exercise per day or for an urgent medical need.
Please ensure that you are extra vigilant and keep safe from scammers. Do not purchase any COVID-19 self-test kit on the doorstep – they are not NHS approved. Do not hand over cash/bank cards to individuals offering to run errands – there are free services available for the vulnerable.
Food and Medical Supplies
There are many services available to get assistance with obtaining your food and medical supplies.
Online services should be utilised where possible. Most supermarkets are prioritising vulnerable individuals, however it is recognised that it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure a delivery slot.
Where online services are not available, ask family, friends, neighbours or local community groups to assist you. They can collect your prescription from the local pharmacy and pick-up any food needed from the supermarkets. However, it is vital you do not come into contact with them. Any supplies collected should be left on the doorstep and picked-up from the doorstep when the person has left.
Many pharmacies already offer a delivery service. You can telephone your pharmacy to enquire whether a delivery service is available. Where this service is provided, it can be set-up over the telephone. The courier will leave any medication on the doorstep to avoid any contact with you.
If your pharmacy does not offer this service, the Government are helping pharmacies to have prescriptions delivered. You can telephone your local pharmacy to ask them to help you find a volunteer. All available volunteers will be ID checked before delivering any medication. The volunteer will leave any medication collected on the doorstep to avoid any contact.
It is recognised that not everyone has the luxury of family, friends, neighbours or community support groups to assist with supplied. If you fall into this category, it is strongly recommended that you register for support via https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable. You can register for support with food, shopping deliveries and medication collection via this link.
It may take time for any support offered through this service to arrive. If you believe you will require these services it is important that you register you interest as soon as possible. It is suggested that you have your NHS number to hand before beginning the registration process. Your NHS number can be located on any NHS letter or prescription.
Effect on Treatment
Your situation will be individually assessed by your healthcare team to minimise the impact on your treatment.
If you are, or about to receive chemotherapy or immunotherapy, decisions will be based on your health circumstances, what is trying to be achieved and where you are in your treatment cycle. Your treatment may continue as planned, or may be paused. Any paused treatment will not be down to hospital capacity issues. It will be based on a risk versus benefit analysis, with a pause in treatment being the best clinical option for you.
CT scans, c-rays and clinical consultations are continuing to take place. It is likely that your clinic team will be asked to support COVID-19 efforts. This may result in appointment cancellations, or appointments taking place via telephone or video. You may also be asked to attend alternative hospitals for investigations/treatment.
There are no medicine shortages and the Government is working closely with the NHS supply chain to ensure all patients can access the medicines they need.
Effect on Legal Case
HASAG’s panel solicitors are fully equipped to work from home. They will continue to provide a professional service to you and your families.
Your chosen solicitor will continue to maintain contact with you and update you and will be readily available to respond to any queries you may have.
Courts continue to be open and have also adjusted their ways of working. The vast majority of asbestos related disease claims are litigated via the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court, due to its specialist asbestos list. During the phase of the COVID-19 outbreak the Queen’s Bench Division have made some temporary changes to their service; albeit every effort has been made to maintain business as usual. Hearings will continue to be dealt with by telephone and arrangements made to use video conferencing, where required.
In terms of claims where loved ones have passed away, we are encountering delays with Inquests. This may delay settlement. You should, however, rest assured that these delays will be kept to a minimum.
In the main, there should be no disruption at all, or as little as possible, to the progression of your case. In the unlikely event that there is to be a delay, your chosen solicitor will ensure that you are fully informed of this and that you are kept abreast of developments at all times.
HASAG’s panel solicitors are here to serve you and you should not hesitate to contact them at any point, should you have queries or concerns, at the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak may have on your legal case.
Keeping up Spirits
Socialise – phone or video chat with people or groups you’d normally see in person. Call your friends and family, send emails. It is always great to reach out to people and have them reach out to you.
HASAG Virtual Coffee Morning – HASAG have started up virtual coffee mornings on Facebook so that the groups stay in touch and keep interacting and socialising and supporting each other. A regular chat can make a vast transformation in how we feel. We can share stories, thoughts and ideas, catch up on the latest gossip and news. I always feel better after having the opportunity for a bit of a moan. You can join the virtual coffee morning here.
You may want to consider starting a virtual group activity with friends. This could be something you are all interested in and can do together, such as watching the same television programme or starting a virtual book club or film club. Group communication may be a great way to build a support network for you and others. You can do this via Facetime, Zoom, Skype or many other video call platforms!
Stay Moving – Remember that any physical movement is good for your body and for your mind. This doesn’t have to be an exhausting physical exercise, any activity and movement is helpful if you’re staying in a lot. Think about household chores, going up and down stairs. Exercise can be as simple or as complex as you like. Sitting less or getting up to change position can be of benefit. If you’re feeling energetic put on some music and dance around the kitchen. Tapping you toes can make you feel a lot better and even rhythmic stretching can get the blood flowing and make you feel restored. HASAG has shared some handy workout videos on their virtual coffee morning.
Accomplish something simple – You may find it helpful to accomplish some of the tasks on your “Too Tedious To Do List” during isolation. This might be as mundane as cancelling credit card or researching switching service providers. Simple things like this may turn a nothing day into a day of accomplishment. It can feel really good to get even the most simple of tasks achieved.
Do something you enjoy every day – Settle in with a favourite book. Do a puzzle. Try your hand at writing, pick up a bit of knitting. Make an Origami frog. You could find a new hobby and develop new skills