Coronavirus

Update for those vulnerable to Coronavirus

Update for those vulnerable to Coronavirus

The COVID-19 virus has caused an international health emergency, and people with diabetes may be more vulnerable to coronavirus. With sensible action within communities across the country, the virus can be delayed and even halted.

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16/03: The Government is advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. This includes people: aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions); and adults under 70 with an underlying health condition including diabetes, chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis, chronic heart disease, chronic kidney disease, being seriously overweight, or pregnant. (If you are instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds, then you are part of this advice.)

The Center for Disease Control reported on data on more than 44,000 people with the condition from the early days of the infection in China. While the case fatalities of those without an underlying medical condition was 0.9%, it was seen that those with diabetes were at a greater risk of 7%, and 10.5% for those with cardiovascular disease – strongly indicating that those with a long-term health condition are more vulnerable to coronavirus.

This means that whether or not you know anyone with diabetes, another long-term health condition, or is at increased risk because of their age, then all precautions should be followed.

What can you do? Like many respiratory diseases, the coronavirus is spread through tiny droplets which are dispersed when a person with the virus sneezes, coughs or talks. The virus can live for multiple hours on surfaces; even for as much as a day or longer in the right conditions. It infects new people when these droplets make their way into the body – which is why it is being commonly advised to wash your hands thoroughly and often, and to resist touching your face, mouth, eyes and nose.

Furthermore, stay at least 1 metre (three steps) away from people, practice good respiratory hygiene (cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, either with the crook of your elbow or a tissue which should immediately be disposed of in a closed bin), and wash hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol rub.

Those with type 1 diabetes, and those with type 2 diabetes who have a blood glucose meter, could benefit from more frequent testing of blood sugar levels. By testing more often, you will be empowered with a clearer picture of how your blood sugar levels are responding, giving you the opportunity to improve your management. Don’t run out of test strips.

For more information on keeping control of diabetes during an illness, check out the diabetes and illness page.

Please bear in mind, it is not all doom and gloom! The BBC News reported on Andrew O’Dwyer, a man who was vulnerable to coronavirus as he has type 1 diabetes. However, he has made a strong recovery after contracting the virus on a trip to Italy in February. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, take steps to remain calm.

Members of the public displaying mild symptoms are no longer required to call NHS 111, as the system is under strain. People are instead urged to look for information on the NHS website and 111 online.

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