COVID-19 Measures and Cocooning
Last week, the Government announced additional measures that must be adhered to in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone is being asked to remain at home.
Only in the following instances are people permitted to leave their homes:
- to travel to or from work if you are providing an essential service. A list of essential services can be found here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/625292-updated-list-of-essential-retail-outlets-27th-march-2020/
- to shop for food
- to collect medical prescriptions and medical supplies and attend medical appointments
- to carry out vital services like caring (including family carers)
- for brief individual exercise - within 2 kilometres of your house. (You can bring children but must keep 2 metres away from others for social distancing)
- for farming
If and when you leave your home follow physical/social distancing guidelines, by keeping 2m distance from other people and using good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
All people living with MS regardless of whether they are taking a disease-modifying therapy or what disease-modifying therapy they are taking should adhere to the measures announced by the Government.
Some people living with MS need to adhere to further guidance and ‘cocoon’
Frontline workers in the health sector living with MS should be redeployed so they are not working directly with COVID-19.
This information was written with input from a group of neurologists in Ireland. Individual hospitals may send a different communication to their patients. If you are concerned or need further guidance on this please contact a member of your healthcare team.
Within the MS community, those on the following disease-modifying therapies should cocoon:
- Alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) (If they have had second dose they should cocoon and if not they should not at this time take a second dose)
- Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus)
- Rituximab (Rituxan)
- Cladribine (Mavenclad)
- Those with significant disability should cocoon
- Those who have had stem cell transplant should cocoon
Here you can download a poster which can be printed and displayed on your door to advise visitors to stay away and deliveries to be left outside: https://www.ms-society.ie/sites/default/files/2020-03/Isolation-Poster-4.pdf
Those on dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera) and Fingolimod (Gilenya) are theoretically at an increased risk though this is currently unsupported by data. However, if they are concerned about risk it is reasonable for them to request that they work from home where possible and cease working where it is not possible to avoid risk, in order to avoid COVID-19. Local neurologists should support this.
All other people living with MS should adhere to the guidelines set out by Government and Public Health.
If anyone is concerned about their risk they should make contact with their GP or neurology team for further information.
Further information on at-risk groups and who should cocoon can be found here: https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/at-risk-groups.html
How to cocoon
- Stay home and avoid face-to-face contact with other people.
- If you have a garden or balcony, spend time outside for fresh air - It is now possible to go for a walk or a drive within five kilometres of your home, if you avoid all contact with other people. If you choose to go for a short walk beyond your garden you should:
- strictly follow social distancing measures - always keep a space of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and other people
- avoid shops
- avoid other people as much as possible
- avoid touching people or surfaces
- wash your hands when you get back home
- Keep in touch with family and friends over the phone or online if you have access.
- Keep yourself mobile by getting up and moving as much as possible.
- Do not go out shopping - ask neighbours, family or friends to help you with shopping and any medicine that you need.
- Arrange for food or medicine deliveries to be left outside your door
- Use the phone if you need to contact your GP or other services - do not leave your house.
- Do not have visitors to your home, except for essential carers.
- Do not attend any gatherings, including gatherings with family and friends anywhere.
If you are cocooning but have a carer who visits you
Visits from people who provide essential support with your daily needs should continue. These include healthcare, personal support and social care. These people can still visit you if they do not have any symptoms.
When carers visit, they need to wash their hands when they arrive. They should wash their hands often when they are in your home. They should try to stay 2 metres away from you, if possible.
If a carer develops symptoms, they will not be able to care for you while they are unwell.
They must stay away until both the following apply to them:
- 5 days with no fever
- 14 days since their symptoms first appeared
Contact the person who arranged your care to arrange another carer.
If you are cocooning but have someone else living with you
Other members of your household do not need to follow the cocooning measures above.
They should follow social distancing and hand hygiene advice which can be found here: https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/protect-yourself.html.
You should follow self-isolation advice which can be found here: https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/self-isolation-and-limited-social-interaction.html.
Try to stay 1 metre apart at a minimum and where possible stay 2 metres apart.
If you require any further information please contact a member of your healthcare team.