Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) update
Advice for patients
As the situation around novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, we want to reassure you that the Agora are doing everything we can to minimise any risk to you, our staff and the public. We also want to continue to support you in your fertility journey and do so with the upmost attention to your emotional wellbeing and to ensure you have the very best possible chance of conceiving.
Dr Carole Gilling-Smith, our Medical Director and CEO, is providing updates on our website as and when we receive further guidance or direction from the Government or our professional bodies.
Due to start treatment?
Here is our advice if you have treatment planned, but not already started.
Already started treatment?
Here is our advice if you have already started your fertility treatment.
Here is our advice if you are already pregnant.
Important Advice to Patients
Please inform the Agora if you have visited the clinic in the last 21 days and have been tested as positive for Coronavirus.
Please note: we will now be offering all our medical and nursing consultations through Agora Zoom or by telephone to minimise the footfall through the clinic and safeguard all our patients where we can. If you prefer to come to the clinic we will of course accommodate your request.
Latest Agora Coronavirus update: 22nd March 2020
Over the last week our two main priorities as a Clinic have been and continue to be firstly, to ensure all those currently in treatment are able to complete their current cycle and secondly to counsel and support all those patients due to start to treatment. Our patient support programmes are busier than ever and we ask you to please make use of these so we can help support you through this time of uncertainty and fear and hopefully start you on your treatment programme as soon as we reasonably can.
In line with the guidance published on 19th March by the British Fertility Society (BFS) and the Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists (ARCS), and supported by our regulatory body the HFEA, we believe the time has come for the Agora Clinic to formally postpone all new treatment cycle starts.
The exceptions to this will be for those patients due to start urgent cancer treatment that may threaten their future fertility. We will be offering egg, sperm or embryo freezing to these patients, provided they are self-isolating and not immunocompromised.
Since 15th March, we have been advising all our patients to postpone starting new treatment cycles, for all the reasons listed below. Our reasons to move now to suspending all new treatment cycle starts is to support the recent significant measures taken by the British Government to promote social distancing, including closing schools and places of social gathering. In addition to supporting social distancing, we believe suspending treatment cycles at this stage will lessen the impact treatment cycles might have on an already stretched NHS if complications arose.
Over 8000 private clinics have now been enlisted by NHS England to help treat patients affected by the virus. Whilst we do not fall in this category, as we do not have any in-patient hospital facilities to offer, we do have skilled staff and the ability to deliver some key out-patient services. The Agora team will do everything it can to support the NHS and the Nation during this time of unprecedented crisis.
Our leadership team including myself will remain on duty at all times at the Agora to support our patients and the services still offered at the clinic. Some of our other staff trained in healthcare will step forward into the NHS to support the massive effort required to, not only treat patients affected by COVID-19, but also to continue to deliver urgent medical care, operations and cancer treatments.
Who is most at risk?
Similarly, to other flu-like respiratory illnesses, infection with COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. It can be more severe for some people and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people over 70, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus and have been advised to self-isolate.
Since travel to and from other countries has now been brought to a halt, there is no longer any specific guidance for returning travellers from anywhere in the world affected by COVID-19 provided they have self-isolated for 7 days. Social distancing is being advised for everyone.
What is the Agora doing to minimise the risk of Coronavirus?
We have daily Senior Leadership Team briefings to respond to any changes in advice from the Government or Department of Health.
We take great pride in maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene at all times. In response to the coronavirus, we have taken additional measures developed in consultation with our Consultant Microbiologist Dr Bruce Stewart and Global and National Public Health Authorities (including the WHO and Department of Health):
- We have increased the frequency of cleaning in specific areas of the clinic (including door handles, reception area, treatment areas, toilets etc.) using hospital-grade disinfectant wipes.
- We are now asking all patients to wash their hands in our washroom facilities on arrival. Please use hot water and soap as advised by the Department of Health. We have been unable to obtain hand sanitiser due to a national shortage but hope the situation may change.
- We have introduced a no handshaking and two metre rule policy.
- We have adjusted our seating arrangements so where possible you will not be sitting closer than two metres to another patient or member of staff. Obviously, we need to relax this rule a little when you are having a treatment such as a blood test or procedure.
- We have removed all magazines and newspapers. We are encouraging our patients to bring their own phones, ipads or laptops to use while waiting.
- We have had to unfortunately suspend access to our drinks machines (water and hot drinks). If you need some water please ask one of our staff.
- We have removed all toys and books from our child play area.
- We ask you to use the tissues provided on each table if you need to and dispose of them in the bins provided.
We also have a detailed contingency plan set up to act swiftly should we be alerted to a case of coronavirus in another patient or member of staff.