During this national emergency of the coronavirus outbreak, people who have diabetes are more vulnerable and at high risk of getting coronavirus. With sensible action within communities across the country, the virus can be delayed and even halted.
NHS England, NHS Improvement and Public Health England have worked with Diabetes UK to produce advice on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak for people living with diabetes.
It includes advice on attending routine appointments and increasing blood glucose monitoring, as well as recommending general good practice around handwashing and reducing the risk of picking up infections. The advice has been published on the Diabetes UK website.
Staying at home
Everyone must now stay at home except in exceptional circumstances. This includes people with diabetes. You will only be able to leave your home for:
· basic necessities, like food and medicine
· exercise once a day
· any medical need or to care for a vulnerable person
· going to and from work, and only if this can’t be done at home, such as for key workers.
If you do need to go outside for any of these reasons, you should still follow strict social distancing measures. This means keeping 2 metres apart from other people and washing your hands as soon as you get home.
If you are already self-isolating or following the shielding guidance, then continue following those rules.
Get detailed advice on staying home and managing diabetes.
Symptoms of coronavirus
The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of a:
- new continuous cough and/or
- high temperature.
What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms
· If you have coronavirus symptoms, however mild:
· Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. If you live alone, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.
· If you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
· Follow the advice of your GP practice, practice nurse or diabetes team regarding your medication.
· If you routinely check your blood sugar at home you'll probably need to do it more often.
· If you don't test your blood sugar levels at home, be aware of the signs of a hyper (hyperglycaemia), which include passing more urine than normal (especially at night), being very thirsty, headaches, tiredness and lethargy. You should contact your GP practice if you have hyper symptoms.
· Stay hydrated – have plenty of unsweetened drinks and eat little and often.
· If you have type 1 diabetes, check your blood sugar at least every four hours, including during the night, and check your ketones if your blood sugar level is high (generally 15mmol/l or more, or 13mmol/l if you use an insulin pump, but your team may have given you different targets). If ketones are present, contact your diabetes team.
· Keep eating or drinking – if you can’t keep food down, try snacks or drinks with carbohydrates in to give you energy. Try to sip sugary drinks (such as fruit juice or non-diet cola or lemonade) or suck on glucose tablets or sweets like jelly beans. Letting fizzy drinks go flat may help keep them down. If you're vomiting, or not able to keep fluids down, get medical help as soon as possible.
If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency, dial 999.
If you have hospital and GP appointments during this period
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital if you have coronavirus symptoms even if you have an appointment.
For those who don't have symptoms and want to attend their appointments, the NHS advises everyone to access medical assistance remotely, wherever possible. However, if you have a scheduled hospital or other medical appointment during this period, talk to your GP practice or clinician to ensure you continue to receive the care you need and consider whether appointments can be postponed.
If you miss your annual diabetes review where your 15 healthcare essentials are checked, you should be able to reschedule once normal service resumes. In the meantime, follow your current regime including checking your feet daily, keep to a healthy diet and try to keep active.
If you or your family need to seek medical advice
Seek prompt medical attention if your illness or the illness in any household members is worsening. If it’s not an emergency, go online to use NHS 111. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. If it is an emergency and you need to call an ambulance, dial 999 and inform the call handler or operator that you or your relative have coronavirus symptoms.
All routine medical and dental appointments should usually be cancelled whilst you and the family are staying at home. If you are concerned or have been asked to attend in person within the period you are home isolating, discuss this with your medical contact first (for example, your GP practice, local hospital or outpatient service), using the number they have provided. If your concerns are related to your coronavirus symptoms contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.
Visit the gov.uk website for more information on COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.