WRITTEN 13/3/2020

The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is all anyone can talk about these days. It is a once-in-a-lifetime (hopefully), WHO designated Pandemic, and it has many of us worried and confused.

To be sure, Australia is better-placed and prepared than most other countries as we have a strong medical system and borders that are difficult to enter without screening.

But we have some ways to go in terms of containing this virus and we cannot predict how long or how damaging it could be to our overall wellbeing as a society.

There are also lessons to be learnt from Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea. These countries managed to ‘flatten the curve’ in a very timely and efficient manner.

You’ll hear more about ‘flattening the curve’ in the coming weeks, possibly months. Essentially this term refers to the graph of the number of infections over time. We want to slow the rates of infection as much as possible – so that our health care system is able to cope.

And that brings me to another point – one that I imagine many of our readers are wondering. Is now a good time to have a procedure? What if I have surgery planned? Or should I postpone any thought of having any elective surgery?

I’m also mindful that as I write this – by the time you read it – things may have changed drastically for Australians – that seems to be the trajectory and response to this virus.

As of today, the state and federal governments of Australia are issuing what is known as intermediate steps, such as banning gatherings of 500 or more. But this could change and extreme social distancing may be implemented. With these changes, elective surgeries may be cancelled as well, though this has not been discussed yet.

One thing that won’t change is all Australians need to listen and adhere to the Health Department’s issued advice and to be guided by the experts. If you are considering surgery, or you have already booked to have a procedure – your doctor will be the best source of advice for you. In anytime, and especially now, no doctor or surgeon will want to put you or anyone else, including him or herself at risk. If you have symptoms or have been in contact with someone recently traveling in countries with COVID-19 you must let your doctor know as soon as possible as otherwise you may be putting yourself and others in danger.

According to surgeon Dr. Nick Moncrieff at Hunter Plastic Surgery, aside from being guided by our Health Department announcements, there are several steps you can follow if you are considering or have surgery scheduled.

“We understand that these uncertain times will create concern about booking surgery,” explains Dr Moncrieff.

“Please do not travel internationally with a return date less than 4 weeks before surgery. This gives you time to recover from the normal stresses of travel, but also allows time for any exposure you have to corona to be evident.”

For anyone who has already booked surgery, or for those that are considering a procedure, Dr Moncrieff also recommends, “taking steps to boost your immunity, and consider having the seasonal flu shot at least 2 weeks before surgery.”

*We will regularly update our readers at Plastic Surgery Hub regarding COVID-19 and what the latest guidelines are from State and National Health departments as well as any other relevant health notices and advice from our qualified experts and contributors.

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