Coronavirus and M.E./CFS
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M.E. and Coronavirus

M.E. and Coronavirus

This page was most recently updated at 5pm on Tuesday 30 March 2021.

This page has been set up to keep track of up-to-date advice regarding Coronavirus. We know that the situation is changing quickly and we are monitoring this closely. For information on the vaccine, please visit our Covid-19 vaccine webpage.

Please note we are not medically trained, and are note able to give medical advice. We have consulted with our Medical Advisers who agree that we should share information from government health sources.


Need to speak to someone right now?

  • If you need information or support, including help finding practical local assistance, please contact our Crisis, Advocacy and Support Service on 0117 927 9551 or send us an email and we will do what we can to help.
  • The UK Government has set up a page online where users from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales can find what help they can receive from the UK gov and other organisations. This includes finding support relating to: what to do if you’re feeling unsafe where you live, or if you’re worried about someone else; paying bills/rent/mortgage; getting food; employment problems; what to do if you’re worried about going in to work; having somewhere to live; mental health and wellbeing, including information for children.
  • In Northern Ireland, you can contact a freephone 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.

What is Coronavirus?

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 a respiratory tract infection, that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.


COVID-19 symptoms

The most important symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of any of the following:

  • a new continuous cough (this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours)
  • a high temperature (37.8C or greater)
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

Further symptoms can include muscle/body aches; chills; fatigue; shortness of breath/difficulty breathing; congestion or runny nose' nausea or vomiting, or diarrhoea.

If you start to experience symptoms, please follow UK Government advice about self-isolating.

If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 10 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.


M.E. and increased risk

No specific advice has been shared for people with M.E. However, the Government website notes that people classed as clinically vulnerable could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus and should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise contact with others.

Given that 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. in this category of moderate risk of developing complications from Coronavirus. Please see Government advice for people more at risk from coronavirus to learn more.


Shielding and clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people

Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) from COVID-19 in England was updated on Thursday 18 March 2021. It remains the case that the CEV list of does NOT include people with M.E. unless they have additional conditions that are listed in this category.

In Scotland, people in these groups are advised to follow any specific advice given to them by their clinician.

Advice to CEV people in Wales changed when the country entered alert level 4 in December 2020, with them being advised to no longer attend work or school outside the home. It adds that shielding measures for the clinically extremely vulnerable will pause from 31 March 2021.

In Northern Ireland, formal shielding has been paused since July 2020. However, since December 2020, CEV people who are working and are unable to do so from home are advised not to attend the workplace.


General guidance in your area

For general information about Coronavirus in your region, please check the relevant links below. The situation is different across the UK, and has been changing regularly:

  • Information on the national lockdown in England.
  • Information for Scotland, which introduced a full lockdown for much of the country from midnight of Tuesday 5 January.
  • Information for Wales, currently at alert level 4 for the whole country.
  • Information for Northern Ireland, where lockdown is imposed and will be reviewed on 15 April 2021.

Advice on the use of face coverings in the context of Covid-19 has also been set out by the World Health Organisation.


Looking after yourself

As well as following health advice to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus, please reach out for emotional support if you need it. Consider taking breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.

There are useful resources online to support looking after your mental health and well-being; Mind has information for anyone feeling anxious or worried. Please be aware that advice relating to exercise/activity will not be taking into account the impact of M.E. and your need to carefully balance activity, energy and rest.