Coronavirus: what is an underlying health condition?

16 March 2020, 20:37

Coronavirus: what is an underlying health condition?
Coronavirus: what is an underlying health condition? Picture: PA

By Tobi Akingbade

Boris Johnson has announced that those with underlying health conditions should self-isolate for 12 weeks - but which underlying health conditions does this include?

According to Public Health England, people with weaker immune systems or chronic illnesses are considered to be people with underlying health conditions - and are more vulnerable during the coronavirus outbreak.

Those with the following underlying health conditions are most at risk:

- Diabetes

- Asthma

- High blood pressure

- Cancer

- Lung disease

- Heart disease

Read more: The Prime Minister's latest coronavirus advice

What should I do if I have asthma?

Asthma UK's advice is to keep taking your preventer inhaler (usually brown) daily as prescribed.

This will help cut your risk of an asthma attack being triggered by any respiratory virus, including coronavirus.

Carry your blue reliever inhaler with you every day, in case you feel your asthma symptoms flaring up.

If your asthma is getting worse and there is a risk you might have coronavirus, contact the online NHS 111 coronavirus service.

What should I do if I have diabetes?

People with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes could be at greater risk of more severe symptoms

Dan Howarth, head of care at Diabetes UK, said: "Coronavirus or Covid-19 can cause complications in people with diabetes.

"If you have diabetes and you have symptoms such as cough, high temperature and feeling short of breath, you need to monitor your blood sugar closely."

You should stay at home for seven days and continue taking your medication. Do not go to a GP practice, pharmacy or hospital.

Those who begin to show symptoms - a new, persistent cough and fever - should stay at home for seven days and contact online NHS 111 coronavirus service if the symptoms get worse.

Am I at a higher risk if I am a smoker?

Chief executive of public health charity, Ash, advises that those who smoke heavily should either cut back or quit completely to lower their risk.

Deborah Arnott said: "Smokers are more likely to get respiratory infections and twice as likely to develop pneumonia as non-smokers.

"Quitting smoking is good for your health in so many ways and smokers should see coronavirus as further motivation to give quitting a go to build up their body's defences now before coronavirus becomes widespread in the UK."

How do I self-isolate?

- If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home only leave your house after 7 days of your symptoms starting. This action will help protect others in your community whilst you are infectious.

- Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home.

- Ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home.

- Stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home whenever possible.

- Sleep alone, if that is possible.

- Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water.

- Stay away from vulnerable individuals such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions as much as possible.

Do not call NHS 111 unless symptoms deteriorate

The government have asked people with mild symptoms to NOT call NHS 111, but self-isolate and search the internet for more information - this is so as not to put the NHS under excess strain.

If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.