Coronavirus and M.E./CFS

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M.E. and Coronavirus

M.E. and Coronavirus

This page was updated on Thursday 7 April 2022.

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness, ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is a respiratory tract infection discovered in 2019, and not been previously identified in humans.

Despite restrictions being lifted and the introduction of vaccinations and booster vaccines, Covid-19 remains a serious health risk, and a considerable source of anxiety for many with long-term conditions (see our 1 April statement on this).

If you have any of the main symptoms of Coronavirus or a positive test results, the public health advice is to stay at home and avoid contact with others.

This page has been set up to keep track of up-to-date advice regarding Coronavirus. Click on the links for current guidance on Coronavirus in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

For information on the vaccine and booster vaccines, please visit our Covid-19 vaccine page.

Need to speak to someone right now?

If you need information or support, including help finding practical local assistance, please contact our Information and Support team on 0117 927 9551 or send us an email and we will do what we can to help. Some local authorities have a Covid helpline; you can search for this online or contact us.

  • The UK Government has set up a page online for people in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales signposting to sources of support. This includes what to do if you’re feeling unsafe where you live, or if you’re worried about someone else; testing for Coronavirus; help with living costs; education and employment support; Long Covid; and mental health and wellbeing, including information for children.
  • In Northern Ireland, you can contact the Freephone Community Helpline set up to help those in vulnerable groups to access information, advice and support, on 0808 802 0020. You can also email or send a text to ACTION to 81025.
  • The Scottish Government has set up a helpline for vulnerable people, including those with M.E. Tel: 0800 111 4000. Callers will be automatically connected to their local authority who will support them to access the service they need, such as essential food and medication, links to local social work services for vulnerable children or adults, emotional support and contact with local volunteer groups.
  • The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) have produced a leaflet on Long Covid for patients in Scotland. This booklet covers what Long Covid is, its symptoms, diagnosing it, and the care plans currently being put in place by SIGN.

Worried about restrictions lifting?

We are hearing from people with M.E. who are understandably worried about the increased risk of catching Coronavirus now restrictions have been lifted.

Please get in touch for support if you would like to talk to someone who understands, and/or discuss options for practical support in your area, including your local Mutual Aid group. You could also:

  • consider joining one of our free, friendly peer-support forums: M.E. Friends Online (for adults living with M.E.) or our Young People's Forum (for those with M.E. aged 18 and under)
  • make use of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme, which some people use to “discreetly identify that they may need support, help, or just a little more time in shops, transport, or public spaces.”

Increased risk, shielding and clinically extremely vulnerable people

No specific advice has been shared for people with M.E. The government advice regarding those who are at higher risk of serious illness from Coronavirus has changed. Unless advised by a GP or healthcare professional, people are no longer being called clinically extremely vulnerable and are considered to be well protected if they’ve had the primary vaccination dose and subsequent booster vaccines.

If you have not yet had your primary vaccination or booster vaccine and have a health condition that makes you more at risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19, the NHS and government advise that you do so to get protected. As M.E. is listed as a neurological condition by NHS England, SNOMED (the system used by GPs in England for electronic health records) and the World Health Organisation, we include people with M.E. as having a health condition that may be at moderate risk of development complications from Coronavirus.

Please see Government advice for people more at risk from coronavirus (updated Thursday 24 February 2022) to learn more.

If you think you have Covid-19

If you have any of these nine Coronavirus symptoms, even if mild, you can order a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kit to be sent to your home or book an appointment at a walk-in or drive-through test site.

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • an aching body
  • a headache
  • a sore throat
  • a blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

If you have symptoms or test positive, you are no longer legally required to self-isolate, but you should try and stay at home and away from others to avoid passing Covid-19 on. You can infect other people for up to 10 days from when symptoms start and you should avoid meeting people at higher risk from Covid-19 for these 10 days.