COVID-19 (coronavirus) can make anyone seriously ill. But for some people, the risk is higher.
There are 2 levels of higher risk:
There is different advice to protect people in each group.
What each group should do
Very high risk people
High risk people
Very high risk groups (extremely vulnerable)
The list of people in very high risk groups include people who:
- are over 70 years of age - even if you're fit and well
- have had an organ transplant
- are undergoing active chemotherapy for cancer
- are having radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
- have cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- are having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- are having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
- are on dialysis
- have unstable or severe cystic fibrosis. This includes people awaiting a transplant
- severe respiratory conditions including Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, severe asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, lung fibrosis, interstitial lung disease and severe COPD
- have a condition that means you have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
- are taking medicine that makes you much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids)
- have a serious heart condition and you're pregnant
- have specific inborn errors of metabolism
What to do if you're at very high risk (extremely vulnerable)
If you are in a very high risk group, you need to stay at home as much as possible.
Work from home where possible. If you are not able to work from home, get advice from your occupational health service and your healthcare team.
High risk groups
The list of people in high risk groups includes people who:
- are over 60 years of age
- have a learning disability
- have a lung condition that's not severe (such as asthma, COPD, emphysema or bronchitis)
- have heart disease (such as heart failure)
- have high blood pressure (hypertension)
- have diabetes
- have chronic kidney disease
- have liver disease (such as hepatitis)
- have a medical condition that can affect your breathing
- have cancer
- have clinically stable cystic fibrosis
- have a weak immune system (immunosuppressed)
- have cerebrovascular disease
- have a condition affecting your brain or nerves (such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, or cerebral palsy)
- have a problem with your spleen or have had your spleen removed
- have a condition that means you have a high risk of getting infections (such as HIV, lupus or scleroderma)
- are taking medicine that can affect your immune system (such as low doses of steroids)
- have obesity
- are residents of nursing homes and other long-stay settings
- are in specialist disability care and are over 50 years of age or have an underlying health problem
What to do if you're at high risk
Take extra care to follow the advice on how to protect yourself from COVID-19.
- staying at home as much as possible
- social distancing
- limiting your social interactions to a very small network for short periods of time
- washing your hands regularly and properly
You should work from home if you are at high risk from COVID-19.
If you cannot work from home and it is absolutely necessary for you to go to your workplace, take extra care to:
- practice social distancing where possible
- wash your hands regularly and properly
If you work in a school, it is safe to return to work once you follow the advice about social distancing and hand hygiene. But talk to your school's occupational health service. They will carry out an individual risk assessment based on your situation.
Ask the people in your life to take extra care to protect you from COVID-19.
Caring for someone at high risk from COVID-19
If you are caring for someone at a higher risk from COVID-19, it is very important you follow the advice on how to protect yourself from COVID-19.
Also, make sure the person you are caring for understands how important it is that they protect themselves.
Smoking may increase your risk of a more severe infection from COVID-19.
Smoking affects the immune system in the airways, lung tissue and throughout the body. This reduces your natural protection against infections, like COVID-19.
Community support is available for people at higher risk from COVID-19. The support includes help with collecting:
- other essential items
Pregnancy and COVID-19
The information we have so far shows that pregnant women or their babies are not at a higher risk of serious illness if they get COVID-19.
Last updated: 30 November at 10.35pm