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People with disability: Information about COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19, sometimes called coronavirus, is a virus that has affected many people around the world. The virus can spread quickly from one person to another which is why is it called a pandemic.

Everybody is at risk of getting COVID-19. Most people will only develop mild illness and recover. Others can develop severe sickness that affects the lungs.

Some people with disability could have more serious complications if they were to become infected with COVID-19, depending on the nature of their disability and other medical history.

Why are people with disability at risk of COVID-19?

Some people with disability may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 especially if they:

  • have high support needs and cannot physically distance
  • have pre-existing health conditions such as a respiratory condition, a compromised immune system, heart disease or diabetes
  • face challenges in accessing healthcare information
  • have a disruption to their regular medication and services
  • are aged 70 years and over
  • are a First Nations person aged 50 years or over
  • are living in supported accommodation or group residential settings.

These factors can make people with disability more susceptible to contracting the virus. They can also experience more severe symptoms, which may lead to a higher chance of fatality.

COVID-19 Essentials: Queensland Disability Network

Learn about COVID-19, staying well and what to do if you or your carer becomes sick.

Duration 0:02:39

Easy read documents Helpful resources

The Australian Government has easy read coronavirus resources for people with disability.

The Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) also have accessible information:

The Access Easy English website contains useful resources on hygiene, cleaning and personal protective equipment (PPE).

The NDIS website also provides COVID-19 information for NDIS participants.

What can I do to prepare?

Think about essential supports you need and consider the services you can't live without.  Talk to your service providers and health professionals to develop a plan to ensure your own personal health and safety over the coming months.

You can make your own ‘Emergency Preparedness Plan’ using the Queensland Disability Network’s individual planning tool for COVID-19, available in accessible formats. The plan will help you to prepare for staying at home for a long period of time, and prepare for what to do if you, or your carer, have COVID-19 symptoms.

If you are sick, stay home and if you have cold or flu like symptoms get tested. In Queensland anyone who has any COVID-19 symptoms should call their doctor or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) to find out where to get a test.

What if I feel sick and need to be tested?

If you feel unwell, and have any COVID-19 symptoms, call your doctor or 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) to ask what to do next. They might ask you to have a COVID-19 test.

If you have any of the following COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, get tested:

FeverFever
CoughCough
Sore throatSore throat
Shortness of breathShortness of breath
Runny noseRunny nose
FatigueFatigue
Loss of smellLoss of tasteLoss of smell and/or taste

Other symptoms people may experience include muscle or joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea and/or vomiting and loss of appetite.

Call emergency services on 000 if you are very sick.

Easy read fact sheet: Testing for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Blog: Everything you ever wanted to know about testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Queensland

Find your nearest testing centre.

Where can I go during COVID-19?

You are still allowed to go into the community at this time and this may involve the following: attending medical treatment, exercising, meeting a friend for a coffee and going out to work. It’s important to look after yourself as per usual. Please remember to socially distance when outside, try to leave a gap of 1.5 metres between you and others where possible and avoid public gatherings.

There are rules that limit gatherings in the community to a maximum of 10 people. To find out the latest information, check the Queensland Government website.

Some people with disability may still choose to stay at home as much as possible to protect themselves. If you need advice and support to help you plan your stay at home:

What if I am entering Queensland and need support to quarantine?

If you are entering Queensland from overseas or a COVID-19 hotspot, you are required to quarantine. If you have specific health care needs, the specialist COVID-19 Health care Support Service can help you and is supported by nurses, doctors, social worker, paramedics and representatives from other Queensland government departments.

To access the Health care Support Service, call 134 COVID (13 42 68) and select option 3.

Can I get medical help or order prescriptions from home?

If you stop your regular health care services and appointments, you are more at risk of getting sick.

Phone and video calls can now replace some face-to-face appointments. Please call your doctor or other healthcare professionals to discuss your options.

The Australian Government has also provided funding to get your medicines delivered to your home from your regular pharmacy. For more information read the Home Medicines Service (PDF).

You can also use the Julian’s Key Health Passport, a tool to communicate your healthcare and support needs with health staff when you attend a hospital.

A trial of Julian’s Key is taking place in Logan and Ipswich Hospitals, but the Passport can be used in any hospital. However, if you use it in a hospital not involved in the trial, health staff might not know about the tool. You might need to explain its purpose to them.

Can I have visitors?

In Queensland there are restrictions on the number of people you should have in your home. These limits do not apply to carers, support workers or other people who provide essential services to you. It is important to practice physical distancing, where possible, if you have visitors.

To find out the latest information, check the Queensland Government website.

How can I protect myself if I share a house with others?

If you live in a home with other people, use prevention measures where you can:

  • Put chairs in shared areas 1.5 metres apart. Limit the time people are together in one space.
  • Think about where you spend most of your time in the house and your daily activity. Plan with the people you live with how you can keep safe distances from each other.
  • Plan how to keep surfaces clean. Support each other with meal preparation, laundry and house cleaning. Read and print these 3 steps (PDF) for household cleaning.

What to do if your support person gets sick?

If your support person feels unwell, they should call a doctor or 13 HEALTH (13 43 25) to ask what to do next.

Your support person will not be able to work while they are waiting for their test results – this could take a few days. During this time, your support person should arrange for someone else to meet your support needs. You can also call your service provider to discuss what your options are.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) have made changes to how people with a NDIS plan can access support. Visit the NDIS website or call the NDIA on 1800 800 110.

If you don’t have a regular service provider, call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.

Where can I access support?

If you need more help you can contact:

More information about COVID-19 including updates and support is available from:

Looking after your mental wellbeing

There may be times when you feel worried, scared or upset about COVID-19. This is normal. You may also feel isolated if you are spending less time with family, friends or your support network. Now, more than ever, it’s important to look after your mental wellbeing.

Beyond Blue has trained counsellors available to offer you support 24/7. Visit the website or call 1800 512 348.

The Council for Intellectual Disability has easy-read resources to support mental health. The Australian Government also has many helpful resources at Head-to-Health.