Coronavirus & M.E. Guidance
COVID-19 Report by Louise Sargent
The government has published the COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan 2021 setting out plans for autumn and winter 2021/22 in England.
M.E. Support has been inundated with messages about the Coronavirus pandemic. There is a plethora of information in the public domain, although this summary highlights useful resources and M.E. related links. Please follow your local health authority for the most up-to-date information specific to your location. If you require individual guidance or advice, please consult your doctor who can take this information into consideration.
This report does not provide medical advice and it is intended for informational purposes only. Please bookmark this page to view regular updates, or link to the page directly to prevent outdated information from being shared. If this website or any other service provided through M.E. Support has been of use to you, please consider Helping to support and continue this important work.
Coronavirus & M.E.
It appears that people who are older, those with weakened immune systems and people who have pre-existing conditions (including chronic neurological conditions) are more vulnerable to the virus. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is officially recognised as a neurological disorder; please read Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Diagnosis, Treatment & Prognosis for further details. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has prepared Information for pregnant women and their families regarding COVID-19. It is imperative that everyone follows guidelines issued by the World Health Organization, Department of Health & Social Care and National Health Service. Please follow the new rules on Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make one. If you have a high temperature, a continuous cough and/or problems with your sense of smell or taste, please Get a free PCR test to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19). Everyone in England, including those without symptoms, is able to Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests. Everyone is being encouraged to download the official NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app for England and Wales. The Office for National Statistics provides the latest data and analysis on Coronavirus in the UK.
Please try to stay calm and focus on your self-management skills, as outlined in A Self-Help Guide to Managing Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. The ME Association has produced a wide range of Free Resources about COVID-19, along with guidance on post-viral fatigue (PVF) and Post-viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS) following the infection. The 25% M.E. Group has produced some downloadable Coronavirus Leaflets specifically for those with severe M.E. The Association of British Neurologists has published Guidance on COVID-19 for people with neurological conditions, their doctors and carers. The Bateman Horne Center (USA) has published Useful medical information when treating COVID-19 in patients with underlying myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and severe fibromyalgia (FM). Carers UK provides a wide range of Coronavirus guidance which is regularly updated. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on ME has highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the M.E. community. The You + M.E. Registry and Biobank is tracking the impact of COVID-19 on the health of people with pre-existing M.E. Your COVID Recovery is an NHS resource to support your recovery after COVID-19. The WHO is gathering the latest international multilingual scientific findings and knowledge on COVID-19. The ME Action Network is regularly updating its worldwide COVID-19 Resources for People with ME.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has published Advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination. The NHS website provides additional guidance about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. The 25% M.E. Group, Action for M.E. and the ME Association have collaborated to agree on a charity statement regarding the vaccine, which can be read in full on Forward ME. Health Rising has launched The Coronavirus Vaccine Side Effects Poll for ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. Anyone who experiences side effects should report this to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency using its Yellow Card scheme. The Anaphylaxis Campaign has answered frequently asked questions about Covid-19 Vaccines and Allergies. Boris Johnson has been clear that there are no plans to make the vaccine mandatory.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 received Royal Assent and came into effect on 25 March 2020. The provisions of the Coronavirus Act, which are time-limited for two years, provide emergency legislative measures to address the Coronavirus disease outbreak.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has published Coronavirus: advice for employers and employees. The Budget 2021 has set out a path for recovery to support businesses and families as we emerge from the pandemic.
Local authority education departments and schools should be signposting parents to resources, services and support whilst children who are registered pupils are unable to attend school. BBC Bitesize offers lots of resources that are clearly divided into subject and age categories, and the broadcaster has promised to offer lots more in the coming days. Ofcom has provided advice on how to Stay Connected during the coronavirus pandemic.
RSCPA animal welfare expert, Dr Samantha Gaines, provides advice on Caring for your pets during the coronavirus pandemic.
Covid Mutual Aid UK is a group of volunteers supporting local community groups organising mutual aid throughout the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK. They write, "We focus on providing resources and connecting people to their nearest local groups, willing volunteers and those in need." In addition, Money Matters consists of links and information about finance and welfare, along with other useful services in the UK.
You might find yourself feeling worried about the spread of Coronavirus and its impact on you and your loved ones. These feelings are normal but it is important to acknowledge them, whilst also reminding each other to look after our physical and mental health. Mind provides advice on Coronavirus and your wellbeing, and the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day. If you are looking for an online community, Action for M.E. has two forums where you can access peer support and friendship. I recommend reading Self-Isolation: Welcome to our World by M.E. Support Ambassador Rochelle Hanslow.
Please be aware of online shopping scams and Coronavirus-themed phishing emails. I recommend that you follow advice from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and Get Safe Online. Misleading health advice is also being shared online; please read WHO Mythbusters for further details.
NHS Volunteer Responders has been set up to support the NHS and the care sector during the COVID-19 outbreak. Volunteers must be 18 or over, and fit and well with no symptoms. Those in higher-risk groups (including those over 70, those who are pregnant or with underlying medical conditions) will be able to offer support by telephone.
The National Emergencies Trust, in partnership with the British Red Cross, has launched a Fundraising Appeal, to raise and distribute funds to support communities made most vulnerable by the Coronavirus outbreak.
Frequently Asked Questions (UK)
- What is shielding?
Shielding is for people who are extremely vulnerable. This includes people being treated for specific cancers, anyone who has recently undergone an organ transplant and those with severe respiratory conditions like cystic fibrosis. It also includes some people who take certain drug treatments that can suppress the immune system - leaving the body less likely to able to fight the virus.
• COVID-19: guidance on protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable
- How do I tell the difference between my M.E. and a viral infection?
M.E. symptoms often mirror those of the flu and other viruses. Listen to your body. You will know if you have a new, severe viral infection. If you suspect that you may have Coronavirus, please follow the official guidance and direct any concerns to your doctor.
• Symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Will COVID-19 lead to M.E. in some people?
Many people experience post-viral fatigue and other complications after an infection, but these are usually short-lived and resolve within a few days or weeks. However, for some people these complications last much longer and may have a significant impact on the quality of their life. In fact, an infection is commonly reported as a trigger for the development of M.E. As we are still in the middle of the pandemic and much is yet unknown, it is hard to predict the extent of this increase in post-viral fatigue and M.E.
• Post-viral fatigue (PVF) and Post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS) following coronavirus infection
• Long covid: diagnosis, management, prognosis