Kidney Patients and their Family Members and Other Household Contacts Urged to take Extra Precautions against COVID-19
Doha, 28 March, 2020: Dr. Hassan Al Malki, Head of Nephrology at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) says people with kidney disease should take extra precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19, noting that those with chronic health conditions are likely to have more severe illness if they contract the virus.
“Older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. This group of patients is at increased risk of becoming seriously ill, being hospitalized, and even dying if they contract COVID-19,” said Dr. Al Malki.
“In chronic kidney disease, elements of the immune system that deal with infections like COVID-19 are less active. These patients have a reduced ability to fight off the virus, and if they contract it, their recovery is often compromised. This should not signal the need for panic, but it does underscore that vulnerable populations, which include those with chronic diseases like kidney failure, need to be extra cautious,” said Dr. Al Malki.
Dr. Fadwa Al Ali, Director of Ambulatory Dialysis, says that HMC’s Dialysis Unit has stepped up precautions to protect patients with kidney failure from the pathogen, but she says patients themselves need to take preventive actions, and she says this includes their family members and other household contacts being extra cautious.
“COVID-19 and other flu-like illnesses can induce acute inflammation, making people with kidney failure vulnerable to other infections. Most dialysis patients have compromised immune systems and many also have an underlying comorbidity, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Add to this the fact that dialysis is an invasive procedure and you can understand why we are so concerned about these patients and ensuring they understand the importance of taking precautions,” said Dr. Al Ali.
“For home dialysis patients, it is important that they are vigilant about keeping their access site clean. Any signs of tenderness or irritation should be reported to your nurse or doctor immediately and you should closely follow your healthcare team’s recommendations regarding diet and medication. If you have a cold or the flu, or any symptoms of respiratory illness, let your doctor know so they can monitor your condition,” added Dr. Al Ali.
Dr. Al Malki noted that while COVID-19 is highly contagious, practicing good health habits, including frequent hand washing, especially before eating, not touching your mouth, nose, and eyes, and avoiding close contact with individuals, particularly if they are sick, are the best ways to avoid contracting the virus.
“Practice good hand hygiene. When possible, avoid places that may be crowed, like busy grocery stores. If you are actively coughing or sneezing, make sure to cover your mouth and nose. Keep your immune system as strong as it can be by making sure you get enough rest, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat a well-rounded diet,” said Dr. Al Malki.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has established a dedicated website (www.moph.gov.qa) to provide the public with updates on the current situation as well as information on how to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. A hotline (16000), which is available 24-hours a day to answer COVID-19 related queries, and an educational social media campaign have also been launched, with the MoPH, HMC, and Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) sharing infographics and videos through their social media channels.