Coronavirus: specific advice for people with type 1 diabetes

Web Resource Last Updated: 05-01-2021

Contents

Having diabetes does NOT mean you are more likely to catch Coronavirus.  However, if you do catch Coronaviruses, it can cause more severe symptoms and complications in people with diabetes. More severe symptoms are also likely in older people, and those with other long-term conditions such as cancer or chronic lung disease.

Latest Updates

National Lockdown now in place

With coronavirus cases rising rapidly across the country, you must stay at home. This will be put in law and the police can take action against you if you leave home without a reasonable excuse. You can only leave your home for essential reasons which include:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
  • Go to work if you cannot work from home
  • Exercise outdoors with your household (or support bubble) or one other person from another household. Exercise is limited to once a day.
  • To meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
  • Seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)

If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work

*Please note these tiers are applicable to England, please see the guidance for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland*

Meeting others

You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).

You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble. You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.

Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.

Travel

You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes). If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall. 

If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you travel.

For further guidance on travelling, please see the UK Government website.

Hands. Face. Space.

Approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.

Remember - ‘Hands. Face. Space.’

  • Hands – wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
  • Face – wear a face-covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • Space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings)

In all circumstances, you should follow the guidance on meeting others safely.

Wearing a face covering

Face coverings are mandatory in all indoor settings and public transport. Under the new rules, people who do not wear a face-covering will face a fine of up to £100. Children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.

The liability for wearing face-covering lies with the individual. To see the UK Government advice about face coverings please click here.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

Do not leave home if you or someone you live with has any of the following: A high temperature, a new, continuous cough, a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste.

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

Phone your GP if your symptoms:

  • are severe or you have shortness of breath
  • worsen during home isolation
  • have not improved after 7 days

If your GP is closed, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or phone NHS 24 (111). In addition, it is recommended that all individuals living in the same household as an asymptomatic person should self-isolate for 14 days (household isolation). Information on COVID-19, including “stay at home” advice for people who are self-isolating and their households, can be found on the NHS website

If you have diabetes and start to feel unwell you need to follow the sick day rules for type 1 on multiple daily injections or insulin pump therapy and check your blood glucose frequently.

You can find help on HM GOV website if you’re struggling because of coronavirus, for example with paying bills, being out of work or taking care of your mental health. You can also sign up to get emails when they change any coronavirus information on the GOV.UK websites

How coronavirus can affect people with diabetes

Everybody that has diabetes, no matter whether type 1, type 2 or gestational, is at risk of developing a severe illness if they get coronavirus, but the way it can affect you varies from person to person.

When you are ill and have diabetes, your blood glucose levels can be unstable as your body is trying to fight the illness. Your body starts releasing stored glucose into your bloodstream to give you energy. As a person with type 1 diabetes, your body cannot produce insulin. This causes your blood glucose levels to rise further. There is a risk of both high and low blood glucose levels as your body is working overtime to fight the illness.

For most people, the coronavirus causes a mild illness, but some people can develop a more serious form of the virus which can be life-threatening.

Shielding advice

If you are clinically vulnerable, you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time you spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.

For more information on shielding, please see the latest advice from the UK Government. 

Other TIPS to keep safe and well 

If you have type 1 diabetes:

  • Ensure you have enough glucose and ketone testing equipment
  • Be aware of you sick day rules provided by your diabetes educator team
  • Make sure you have a good stock of insulin pens, needles and any other medications you are prescribed
  • Stay hydrated – have plenty of unsweetened drinks and eat little and often
  • If you are an insulin pump user you should have insulin pens as a backup and a good supply of insulin pump consumables
  • Make sure your diabetes technical device  (insulin pump /continuous glucose monitor/Freestyle Libre device is in good working order and if you have any concerns phone the company who supplies your device directly to troubleshoot and arrange a replacement if necessary.

For the most up-to-date advice then keep checking the UK government and NHS websites.

Additional JDRF advice for Type 1 diabetes can be found here.

To avoid catching or spreading Coronavirus:

Do:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently – wash for at least 20 seconds
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water isn’t available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands
  • Try to avoid close contact with people that are unwell
  • Maintain social distancing according to government guidelines on what you can and can’t do
  • Read more about staying safe outside your home on GOV.UK.
  • Cover your face by wearing a face mask over your nose and mouth in enclosed spaces

Don't

  • Touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • Do not use pocket-handkerchiefs as these are unhygienic, instead use single-use tissues.

If you have hospital and GP appointments

Do not go to the GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital if you have coronavirus symptoms. If you are having treatment for something such as an eye or foot problem and you do not have coronavirus symptoms, then your appointments should still carry on unless you have been contacted to cancel it. If you are in any doubt then phone the number on your appointment letter.

Most routine appointments such as your annual diabetes review have been delayed or postponed for just now. These will be rescheduled once the situation returns to normal. In the meantime keep up your routine of checking your feet, keeping to a healthy diet and doing some physical activity in line with the lockdown restrictions.

If you notice something different that you are concerned about such as a cut or blister to your foot, call your GP and let them know. If you cannot get through then call 111 for advice. If you have a change in your vision you should get in touch with your local screening service or optometrist. 

Children and school

Colleges, primary (reception onwards) and secondary schools will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term.

You can find all of the latest news from the government about coronavirus on their website.

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