Coronavirus: Do you have an ‘underlying health condition’? How to social distance yourself

Coronavirus cases are now being confirmed by Public Health England in each local authority, as surge of infections continue. Those with underlying health conditions are urged to distance themselves from other people. Does it affect you?

As of Tuesday March 17, the government reported that there are 1,950 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

On Monday March 16, Prime Minister Boris Johnson began his daily update to the public on the global pandemic.

Now social distancing measures are in place to try to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.


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People with diabetes have been advised by the government to carefully follow those measures, as they’re at an increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus COVID-19.

Other health conditions noted by the government include asthmatics and those living with chronic heart disease.

Public Health England (PHE) detail the full list of those who need to take extra precaution to keep away from others at this time. It goes as follows:

  • Aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • Under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below:
  • Chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
  • Chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • Chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
  • Diabetes
  • Problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
  • A weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
  • Being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
  • Those who are pregnant

PHE add: “There are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

“If you are in this category, next week the NHS in England will directly contact you with advice to keep yourself and others safe.”

What does social distancing involve?

Social distancing is a way to reduce social contact with other people.

PHE wants people to avoid gatherings with family and friends – meaning Mothering Sunday (March 22) is off the cards for many.

Instead, the use of technology to keep in contact with loved ones is advised.

This includes staying in touch by phone, internet and social media.

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The PHE continues that social distancing requires people to avoid pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars and clubs – in essence, it’s best to avoid gatherings in smaller public spaces.

For those working, your employer should help support you to work from home if possible.

The use of non-essential public transport is also one of the government’s guidelines, with people asked go avoid rush hour all together.

Additionally, please refrain from having contact with anyone displaying the symptoms of a COVID-19 infection: fever and continuous cough.


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If you’re concerned about your health, please call your local GP centre.

Do not attend the GP’s clinic in person unless otherwise instructed to.

PHE recommend people with diabetes, and others with underlying health conditions listed above, to stringently follow these guidelines.

The general public are also encouraged to follow these guidelines, but people with underlying health conditions must do so to protect themselves and others.

In order to get food and medicines delivered to your doorstep, take advantage of online services.

Or ask family, friends or neighbours – over the telephone – to assist you by dropping things off outside your door.

PHE state: “The public sector, business, charities, and the general public are gearing up to help those advised to stay at home.

“If you have care provided for you through the local authority or health care system, this will continue as normal.”

The latest government guidelines state that those with serious health conditions must be “largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks” beginning from this weekend.

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