The BSG is monitoring the spread of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) very carefully. We are aware that the new virus has caused understandable concern for many patients living with Gastrointestinal or Liver diseases, particularly those conditions that require immunosuppressive drugs.
At present we are not aware of any specific advice that has been issued by the UK Government, or the Devolved Administrations, for patients on immunosuppressive drugs, so until advice becomes available we would suggest the following common-sense measures.
Follow the advice from the UK Government Department of Health, or the Health Departments of the Devolved Nations.
You can find up to date advice here:
In particular follow advice on hand washing.
- The UK Government is constantly monitoring the situation so its advice can change from day to day. You can get the current advice here:
- If you are planning to travel you can get UK Government advice here:
Bear in mind that lots of countries are struggling with the virus at the moment and their health services are very stretched. Ask yourself whether your journey is absolutely necessary. If you do have to travel, remember to take supplies of all your medications, with enough in reserve in case you have to be isolated. Don’t rely on being able to get supplies overseas
Take advice on whether you will be able to enter your destination and whether restrictions might apply when you return to the UK.
- Advice on self-isolation and public health measures can change from day-to-day. Currently, the Government is advising that everyone should stop non-essential contact with others. This is particularly important for people over 70 years of age, those with underlying health conditions and pregnant women
- Follow the news from reliable sources, such as the BBC or the UK Government and Devolved Nations websites. (Organisations such as Crohns and Colitis UK, Coeliac UK, GUTS UK, and the British Liver Trust have good medical advisors and can be trusted.) Do not believe everything posted on social media sites
- Stopping immunosuppressants may put you at risk of a flare-up which might actually be more of a risk to you than COVID-19 infection. Don’t stop treatment without taking medical advice either from your GP or your specialist service
- It is probably sensible to avoid close contact with people who are unwell with chest infections or fever until they are clearly getting better
Our priority at the BSG is always the safety of our patients, and the quality of care that they receive, which is why we publish guidelines on the management of many gut and liver conditions.
COVID-19 (new coronavirus) is a brand new infection, so we don’t know all the answers. This is why it’s important to take a common-sense view and avoid unnecessary risks. Stopping immunosuppressive medication without speaking to your medical advisors can be very dangerous so don’t do it without taking proper, reliable medical advice.
As we get more information we will keep you posted on our website.