M.E. and Coronavirus
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.
This page was last updated at 1pm on Wednesday 20 January 2021.
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.
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.
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.
Clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people
The shielded patients list for England includes people deemed, on medical grounds, to be clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV). This list of CEV people does not include people with M.E. unless they have additional conditions that are listed in this category. Your hospital clinician or GP can add you to the shielded patients list if they deem you to be at higher risk of serious illness if you catch the virus.
The latest guidance for CEV people can be found on the gov.uk website. Following the latest national lockdown announcement on Monday 4 January, CEV people are once again being advised to shield. The Government have stated that people on this list will receive letters from the NHS advising them on how to stay safe.
In Northern Ireland, while formal shielding has been paused since July 2020, from 26 December 2020, CEV people who are working and are unable to do so from home are advised not to attend the workplace. CEV and vulnerable people are also advised to be particularly mindful to follow Covid-19 guidance.
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. In Scotland, people in these groups are advised to follow any specific advice given to them by their clinician.
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 Jan.
- Information for Wales, currently at alert level 4 for the whole country.
- Information for Northern Ireland, where additional restrictions were introduced on Saturday 26 Dec.
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.
- Contact our friendly, experienced team for information and support; we can also connect you with your local M.E. support group or Mutual Aid group.
- Join 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).
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.