Covid-19 and High-Risk Individuals

Though we believe most people will have a mild illness, some older people or people with pre-existing health conditions will experience severe illness and we need to protect them.

Who is at greater risk from Covid-19?

The groups with the highest risk of serious illness from Covid-19 are the elderly and people with chronic health conditions – heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, hypertension – are at higher risk, as well as people with suppressed immunity.

There are some simple and effective actions everyone can take to protect themselves and their wider community:

Wash your hand frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue

One of the ways we become infected, or pass on viruses to others, is through the droplets in coughs and sneezes – for instance through someone who has a virus, coughing onto their hand, then touching a door handle.

A simple and effective way to protect yourself and others from coronavirus is by making sure you wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or a hand sanitiser if you are out and about. It’s particularly important to wash your hands once you get home or arrive at work or before you prepare or eat food. If you are unwell it’s vital that you catch your coughs and sneezes in a tissue, or use your arm if needed, throw the tissues away, then wash your hands.

Be prepared to self-isolate

As COVID-19 is now spreading in the community, people with symptoms of coronavirus should self-isolate at home. This means staying indoors and avoiding contact with other people after the onset of symptoms (new, continuous cough and/or high temperature).

It’s very important to point out that we expect that the majority of people who catch COVID-19 will not need to see a health professional as their symptoms will be mild, such as those you might expect with a cold or flu and treatable at home.

We understand that being asked to self-isolate could be inconvenient, frustrating or boring, particularly if you have mild symptoms and feel well enough to go out, but we are only asking people to do this as doctors and scientists believe it is necessary in order to slow the spread of coronavirus, protect people who are vulnerable and help the health and medical service provided to manage the capacity.

Plan based on your situation

There are a number of ways to slow down an infectious disease outbreak. Wellestablished tactics include self-isolation as mentioned above, as well as measures sometimes referred to as “social distancing.” Looking ahead, what preparations could you put in place to help you self-isolate if you needed to?

  • Do you have family, friends or neighbours who could bring food to your house or run errands, or could you do online shopping?
  • Could you talk to your employer about opportunities to work from home if this became necessary?

Use health services wisely

Now that COVID-19 is spreading in the community this could mean the doctors and hospitals are busier than usual so it’s important to think carefully about the medical services you use. If you start to experience symptoms and believe you could have coronavirus, do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital as you could pass the infection to others. It is unnecessary for everyone with COVID-19 to go to hospital as the majority will have mild symptoms.

We expect the majority of people who catch COVID-19 will make a full recovery without medical attention, but if you are concerned because you believe you are at greater risk, or feel your symptoms are becoming more severe, contact your local GP, clinic or hospital telephonically.

Stay up to date using trusted sources of information

Since COVID-19 began to spread quickly in China, it has been a major global news story and with this level of media and public interest it’s inevitable that myths, misinformation and rumors will be shared online. Make sure you get your information from trusted sources. If you’re unsure of where to turn or what to share, be sure to check out the World Health Organization website as a trusted source of evidence-based information.