Who is high risk for COVID-19?
The current COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused the UK to enter lockdown, is caused by a coronavirus. This is a new virus with no effective treatment yet, which is why we must take precautions to avoid infection. COVID-19 primarily attacks the respiratory system (i.e. the lungs and airways), and usually causes a fever, cough and loss of taste and/or smell.
For specific people, this virus is more likely to cause serious complications. This is why they are advised to take further steps to prevent infection.
According to the NHS, some people are classed as being at high risk for COVID-19. This group includes cancer patients receiving treatment, people who have had organ transplants, and people with severe lung conditions. Other people classed as being at moderate risk include people over 70, pregnant women, and people with conditions such as diabetes or liver disease.
People at high risk from COVID-19
This group includes anyone who:
- has had an organ transplant
- is having cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, antibody treatment or immunotherapy, or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
- is having targeted cancer treatments that affect the immune system (e.g. protein kinase inhibitors)
- has leukaemia, lymphma or myeloma, or another blood or bone marrow cancer
- has had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in the past six months
- is taking immunosuppressant medicine
- has severe asthma or another severe lung condition
- has a condition that causes a very high risk of infection (e.g. sickle cell)
- is taking medicines that can increase the risk of infection (e.g. high doses of steroids)
- is pregnant AND has a serious heart condition
What should I do if I’m at high risk?
If you fall into one of the categories above, you would have received a letter at the beginning of lockdown from the NHS telling you to stay home. If you haven’t received a letter, and you think you might be at high risk, you should contact your GP as soon as possible for advice.
High risk individuals were asked to practice shielding. Shielding is where you stay home at all times and limit your contact with other people in your house. The government paused shielding on August 1st for high risk individuals, however this decision is under constant review so it’s important to regularly check the government website for updates.
Whether or not it’s compulsory, the following advice applies to high risk individuals shielding during the pandemic:
- Staying at home where possible
- Washing your hands regularly
- Avoiding touching your face or hands
- Keeping 2m distance from people outside of your household or bubble
These people will also be advised they can start to go out more, but the advice is:
- Work from home if you can. You can go into work if needs be, provided the workplace if COVID-secure
- Children who are clinically vulnerable can go back to school once the rest of their class have returned
- Go out to buy food, visit places of worship and to exercise, maintaining a social distance wherever possible.
This is a small advisory change that brings those affected a step nearer others in their communities
It’s also recommended that you do the following:
- Keep your home as clean as possible by regularly cleaning and wiping objects and surfaces, especially in any shared bathrooms.
- Don’t forget to wipe kettles, doorknobs and phones.
- Get into the habit of washing your hands regularly. You should wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Anyone who comes into your home should wash their hands as soon as they arrive.
- Continue taking all your routine prescription medication and don’t take anything new without consulting your doctor.
- Pack a bag for the hospital that contains a list of all current medications. This will allow you to leave home quickly if you need medical help.
It’s not easy to stay home and limit contact with others, but if you’re at high risk, it’s important to follow the above guidelines until told otherwise.
People at moderate risk from COVID-19
This group includes anyone who:
- is aged 70 or older
- is pregnant
- has a non-severe lung condition
- has diabetes
- has heart disease, liver disease or chronic kidney disease
- has a neurological condition (e.g. Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis)
- has a condition that causes a high risk of infection
- is taking medicine that can affect the immune system (e.g. low doses of steroids)
- is obese, with a BMI of 40 or above
What should I do if I’m at moderate risk?
If your risk from COVID-19 is moderate, you don’t need to practise shielding. However, you should still take precautions to avoid infection.
Help from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor for asthma patients
If you have asthma you may be at moderate or high risk from COVID-19 depending on the severity of your condition. In either case, you may be concerned about receiving your asthma inhalers over the coming weeks.
At LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, we can supply reliever and preventer inhalers through our trusted and secure online service. Orders are approved by our clinicians and inhalers can be made available for home delivery. Visit our asthma clinic to find out more.
Updated 5th Aug 2020 - we recommend the COVID-19 pages on the NHS website for more up to date information.