The Australian Asthma Handbook has been updated for health care professionals with recommendations for managing asthma patients during the pandemic.
There is no specific data as yet to suggest people with asthma are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, nor that they would experience a more serious case of the illness. Nevertheless, Asthma Australia and the National Asthma Council are encouraging individuals with asthma to optimise their health during the pandemic, ensure their asthma is under control, continue taking their corticosteroid preventers, and ensure they have an up-to-date written asthma action plan.
Health care professionals should not perform lung function testing using spirometry or peak expiratory flow. If testing is urgent or essential, consider referring patients to a lung function laboratory. Otherwise, comprehensive infection control measures must be maintained.
Nebulisers should also be avoided to administer inhaled medicines, as they carry a high risk of transmitting infections due to the generation of aerosols that spread infectious droplets, which can remain airborne for more than 30 minutes. Should salbutamol need to be administered in either adults or children, the use of a pressurised inhaler and spacer with a tight-fitting mask should be used. Inhalers and spacers should not be shared with anyone else, including family members.
To review the National Asthma Council guidelines, visit their webpage.