Covid-19 Information & Advice
M.E. Support is being 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.
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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/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (M.E./CFS) is officially recognised as a neurological disorder; please read Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Diagnosis, Treatment & Prognosis for further details. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have prepared Information for pregnant women and their families regarding Covid-19. It is imperative that everyone follow guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation, Department of Health & Social Care and National Health Service. On June 19, the UK's Covid-19 Alert Level was reduced from four to three.
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 leaflet about Post-viral fatigue (PVF) and Post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS) following coronavirus infection, along with publishing weekly Covid-19 and ME/CFS updates by Dr Charles Shepherd. 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).
On the 29th of March, a Letter was sent to major supermarket chains and the government from M.E. charities and the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME, highlighting the immediate and pressing challenge faced by people with M.E. in accessing food and essential supplies. Action for M.E. are asking you to share your experience to help the UK Government understand the impact of the lockdown and Coronavirus situation on people with M.E. The You + M.E. Registry and Biobank is a collection of patient-reported data and biosamples from people living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. A questionnaire has been included so that they can track the impact of COVID-19 on the health of people with pre-existing M.E.
I recommend watching Infectious Disease Expert Explains How Coronavirus Spreads featuring Dr Ian Lipkin. In addition, Dark Sun: Reflections on the Coronavirus as it Heads For Town is the first of a series of articles written by Cort Johnson. The Globe and Mail has reported that Scientists warn COVID-19 could lead to neurological complications in some patients. Patients who have had Coronavirus "could be at higher risk of developing Myalgic Encephalomyelitis", researchers at the University of Leicester have warned. David Tuller and Steven Lubet discuss Chronic fatigue syndrome may hold keys to understanding post-Covid syndrome in STAT news. COVID-19 studies in relation to M.E./CFS have been announced by JOGO Health, the Open Medicine Foundation and the European Network on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Which? has published a mindful article about Coronavirus: how to clean your home effectively. The ME Action Network are regularly updating their worldwide COVID-19 Resources for People with ME.
The World Health Organization has changed its advice on Face Masks, saying they should be worn in public to help stop the spread of Coronavirus. Face coverings in enclosed public spaces are now compulsory in England. This includes hospitals and GP surgeries, public transport, indoor transport hubs, shops and supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, takeaways, banks, building societies and post offices. There are exemptions for children under 11 and those with disabilities or certain health conditions, such as respiratory or cognitive impairments. Masks are not mandatory in hospitality settings, entertainment venues, visitor attractions or exercise and sports venues. The UK Government has provided guidance on Face coverings: when to wear one and how to make your own.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 has received Royal Assent and has come into force. The provisions of the Coronavirus Act, which are time-limited for two years, provides emergency legislative measures to address the Coronavirus disease outbreak.
The UK Government has issued COVID-19: residential care, supported living and home care guidance. Carers UK and Carers Trust have made a Joint Statement (PDF file) regarding the Coronavirus. This covers an overview of the current advice for people who are providing unpaid care.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has published Coronavirus: advice for employers and employees. The Budget has announced a Package of Measures to support public services, individuals and businesses affected by Covid-19.
The Department for Transport has announced Vehicle owners to be granted MOT exemption in battle against coronavirus. Temporary exemption will enable vital services to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people to get essential food and medicine.
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.
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. The government has published Guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19). 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 three forums where you can access peer support and friendship.
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 Myth busters 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)
- Who should be 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.
Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19
- 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.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptoms and what to do
- What are the new rules for daily life?
We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:
- stay at home as much as possible
- work from home if you can
- limit contact with other people
- keep your distance from people not in your household (2 metres apart where possible)
- wash your hands regularly
Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.Reference:
Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can't do