COVID-19: What IBD Patients Should Know

March 13, 2020

We have been receiving many questions about how COVID-19 (the Novel coronavirus) might impact our patients with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), and have collected the following recommendations and points to consider:

*** If you are sick and need immediate attention call 911 or call Health Link at 811 *** 

*** Please use the AHS Self-Assessment Tool ( to see whether you need to be tested for COVID ***

  • Overall, the risk from COVID-19 is low, even if they have IBD and are on immunosuppressive therapy. As of March 24, 2020 72 cases have been reported and we expect this number to rise. 
  • The risk for transmission in Canada, and specifically in Alberta, remains low. However, this is a dynamic situation and you need to follow updates from the media/Alberta Health Services (AHS). For the most up-to-date details from AHS, please visit
  • Don't stop your IBD medications without consulting your doctor. Your IBD is likely more of a concern than getting sick from COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 does not travel through the air over long distances or times; however, it can spread person-to-person by larger droplets, like from a cough or sneeze, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces, then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. 
  • It’s important to remember that while the risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19 is higher than with influenza, you can still protect yourself, your family, and those who are vulnerable in our communities by using the same practices recommended for protecting against all respiratory illnesses.
  • The best thing to do are the same instructions for the general population – common sense and good hygiene are the best measures:
    • Wash your hands often and well
    • Avoid touching your face, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
    • Use elbow bumps or waves instead of handshakes to greet
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched
    • Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill (especially postponing visits to friends or family in hospitals or long term care facilities)
    • When sick, cover your cough and sneezes and then wash your hands
    • Call Health Link, at 811 if you are concerned about your symptoms or
      believe you may be at risk.
    • There is currently no vaccine for this virus, so by protecting ourselves we are helping to protect others. 
  • If you have recently returned to Canada (within 14 days) and have fever or respiratory symptoms, or if you believe you may be at risk for COVID-19 for any reason and you are ill, please contact Health Link at 811 for advice.

 We know these are stressful times and hope this information will help you manage this stress. If you have any specific concerns or questions please contact us using the phone numbers you have.