JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charityCoronavirus (COVID-19) – information for people living with type 1 diabetes

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – information for people living with type 1 diabetes

Updated 26 March 2020 at 4pm.

Global headlines are dominated by news about the novel coronavirus. We know that many people with type 1 diabetes want more information and may be concerned.

Below are some useful links and information about the virus and what people with type 1 diabetes need to know.

23RD MARCH UPDATE: The Government has introduced new measures to restrict movement in response to the coronavirus outbreak for all citizens.

You can find these new measures on the government website. We will update this page once the new restrictions have been revised. The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

What is it?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses. Most of them cause illness in animals, but seven known types of coronaviruses cause illness in humans. SARS-CoV-2 is one of those viruses – it causes the illness COVID-19.

What are the symptoms?

People who are confirmed to have COVID-19 have exhibited mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, coughing and shortness of breath. According to the WHO, some people may experience aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea – though these symptoms usually develop gradually after the onset of the illness.

What actions should I take?

Since the virus causing COVID-19 is new, a vaccine to prevent it hasn’t been developed yet. The NHS has posted key recommendations for preventing the spread of all respiratory illnesses.

Key advice currently includes: washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; not touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; staying at home when you are sick; and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

People with type 1 diabetes, who have glucose values close to target, may not be at greater risk of developing COVID-19, unless their situation is complicated by other concerns.  There is currently no good information to tell us how type 1 diabetes interacts with COVID-19 and other health aspects to affect risk.

Not everyone living with type 1 diabetes is at higher risk of contracting coronavirus, or of having complications from it. However, some, especially those who are older or with other underlying conditions, may be more severely affected and everyone is encouraged to follow the government advice closely. This will minimise risk for everyone as well by avoiding transmission across the population.

It is important to follow all advice to minimise the risk of infection, and to prevent spread, especially if you experience symptoms. People living with diabetes have been advised to implement social distancing measures. It is important that you adhere to these and that you’re prepared by ensuring you have adequate medical supplies and consumables available, including access to ketone testing strips.

You may have also heard about shielding measures introduced by the Government to protect extremely vulnerable people who are at a very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. The advice for this group are to stay at home and isolate, and avoid all face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks. Unless they have another condition, most people with type 1 diabetes are not in the shielding category; you can view more detail about those who are defined as extremely vulnerable here. The NHS will be contacting all those who this directly impacts by Sunday, 29th March 2020.

What should I do if I have any symptoms?

It is important if you have symptoms such as a new continuous cough or high temperature that you follow Public Health England guidelines to stay home for 7 days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person gets symptoms. Ensure you continue to monitor your blood glucose and implement your sick day rules, checking for ketones more closely. Contact your diabetes specialist team if you feel you need additional support for your diabetes, although please be mindful about how busy the NHS is in these unprecedented times.

Only contact the NHS 111 service (by phone or online) if:

  • You feel like you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • Your condition gets worse
  • Your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

If you have been travelling abroad and you think you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, ensure you follow the guidance found on the government and NHS websites.

Insulin, medicines and diabetes tech

DTN-UK have been in contact with all companies supplying insulin pump, continuous glucose monitoring and flash glucose monitoring in the UK at this time. We can reassure all users of diabetes technology that none of these companies are anticipating significant interruptions to their supply chain due to the Coronavirus crisis. We would ask that people do not attempt to stockpile supplies of consumables as this is unnecessary and may create problems for other users. If demand remains as normal, there will be no shortages. Companies may experience short term supply problems with some items, as is usual, but if this occurs these are expected to resolve quickly. You will be contacted in the event that this situation changes. See more detail here.

Additional information

NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Government guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
Government action plan: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan
World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
NHS advice for travellers: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/advice-for-travellers/
JDRF information about type 1 diabetes and sickness: https://jdrf.org.uk/information-support/living-with-type-1-diabetes/health-and-wellness/sickness/
Diabetes UK : https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/coronavirus

This page will be updated as official advice changes.

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These extraordinary times are new to us all but we will not stop in our efforts to cure type 1. Together with your support, we deliver life-changing breakthroughs for people with this condition. If you can, please consider making a gift today to help find better treatments and a cure for type 1 diabetes.

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