People with medical conditions — coronavirus (COVID-19)

Some medical conditions increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This page outlines the steps you can take to protect yourself and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Anyone could develop serious or severe illness from COVID-19, but those with chronic health conditions or weakened immune systems are at greater risk.

High risk of severe illness

You are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if you:

  • have had an organ transplant and are on immune suppressive therapy
  • have had a bone marrow transplant in the last 24 months
  • are on immune suppressive therapy for graft versus host disease
  • have blood cancer e.g. leukaemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome (diagnosed within the last 5 years)
  • are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Moderate risk of severe illness

You are at moderate risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if you have:

  • chronic renal (kidney) failure
  • heart disease (coronary heart disease or failure)
  • chronic lung disease (excludes mild or moderate asthma)
  • a non-haematological cancer (diagnosed in the last 12 months)
  • diabetes
  • severe obesity with a BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2
  • chronic liver disease
  • some neurological conditions (stroke, dementia, other) (speak to your doctor about your risk)
  • some chronic inflammatory conditions and treatments (speak to your doctor about your risk)
  • other primary or acquired immunodeficiency (speak to your doctor about your risk)
  • poorly controlled blood pressure (may increase risk – speak to your doctor).

What can I do to protect myself?

Even if you are feeling well it is important to take extra care to protect yourself from COVID-19. You should always maintain good hygiene, stay 1.5 meters away from other people where possible, and wear a face mask when you are not able to keep 1.5 metres away from other people or whenever mandatory face masks are required.

We also recommend you talk to your doctor about the COVID-19 vaccine.

What should I do if I get sick?

If you start to feel sick, contact a doctor or call 134 COVID (134 268).

If your symptoms are serious and you experience shortness of breath, call 000.

Stay healthy during COVID-19

It is important to maintain healthy habits during this time to keep your immune system as strong as possible.

Emotional stress, lack of sleep and physical exhaustion can impact your immune system further, making you more susceptible to illness.

Try to:

  • Get plenty of sleep—aim for eight hours every night
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Take steps to relieve stress—try yoga, meditation or light exercise you can do at home.

Find more suggestions on how to stay healthy at home on the Healthier. Happier. website.

How do I know if my symptoms are from COVID-19 if I have the same symptoms regularly due to my ongoing health condition?

We know COVID-19 symptoms can present as similar symptoms to other health conditions. If you have an ongoing health condition, you and your treating clinicians will know your regular health the best. You should speak to your doctor and get tested for COVID-19 if you notice any changes to your regular condition.

Attending health care appointments

It is important that you go to your usual, confirmed appointment with your doctor or other health care professionals.

If you are worried about going to see your health care provider in person, contact them to see if you are eligible for a telehealth appointment.

People with chronic health conditions may get very sick if their regular health care services and appointments are stopped.

Putting off your health care checks can be dangerous and now is not the time to delay getting the care you need.

Hospital and health services are following the highest standard of infection control. Positive COVID-19 patients are not treated in general wards, and fever clinics are either located off-site or in isolated areas of the hospital.

Carers and support arrangements

Any essential carers or visitors who support you with your everyday needs can continue to visit unless they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19.

Everyone coming to your home should practice good hygiene and social distancing, where possible.

Speak to your carers about back-up plans for your care in case your main carer becomes sick and has to stay at home.

Do I keep taking my usual medications, including immunosuppressant medications?

It is important to keep taking your usual dose of medications during this time.

If you are worried about your healthcare plan or medication, contact your doctor to discuss.

Prescriptions at home

The Australian Government has provided funding so you can get your medicines from home through the Home Medicines Service. Visit the Australian Government’s website for more information or contact your local pharmacist.

How do I care for my mental health and stay connected?

Staying at home and limiting contact with other people may lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, anxiety, or depression.

You may also feel more vulnerable and anxious about being exposed to the virus.

Find simple ways to boost your mental wellbeing.

Going to work

If you have a compromised immune system, it is best to stay at home as much as possible. This includes working from home when you can. If you work for an essential service, contact your employer for advice about your situation.

Going to school

It is important that you communicate with your school if you choose to keep your child at home, either due to concerns about COVID-19 or if your child is ill for any other reason. When you contact the school with this information you may also wish to discuss any support you may need to assist you with your child’s learning at home.

Parents and carers of students with health support needs are encouraged to speak to their doctor when deciding if their child should go to school.

I have no support network; how do I get help?

The Community Recovery Hotline is available to support vulnerable Queenslanders in home quarantine who have no other means of support.

The hotline can assist people by arranging non-contact delivery of essential food and medication to people in quarantine with no other means of support.

The Community Recovery Hotline can be contacted on 1800 173 349.

Information for friends and family

Staying at home if you are sick and limiting contact with people doesn’t just help protect you. It helps protect the people who are most vulnerable to getting very sick from COVID-19.

If you know someone who has a compromised immune system, it is important to support them during this time.

Remember to check in on people, especially those who are living alone or may be more vulnerable to health issues. This can help them feel connected and supported.

Ways you can help:

  • Connect with someone via phone, email or social media.
  • Pick up groceries or prescriptions and drop them off at their home.
  • Use Queensland Health’s Kindness cards (PDF). Print them out and slip it into someone’s letterbox.