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 (updated 05.04.20). 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. You can follow the latest updates via media outlets such as BBC News.
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 is publishing regular guidance on Coronavirus and ME/CFS by Dr Charles Shepherd. The 25% M.E. Group has produced some downloadable Coronavirus Leaflets specifically for those with severe M.E. 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. 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) (PDF file).
I recommend watching Infectious Disease Expert Explains How Coronavirus Spreads featuring Dr Ian Lipkin. I also recommend listening to "Dr Jack", an Intensive Care consultant at the NHS, who called LBC Radio to reveal what life is like on the frontline of the health service. In addition, Dark Sun: Reflections on the Coronavirus as it Heads For Town is the first of four interesting articles written by Cort Johnson. He has also written Will COVID-19 Leave An Explosion of ME/CFS Cases in its Wake? for Simmaron Research. Which? has published a mindful article about Coronavirus: how to clean your home effectively. The New York Times has published A tutorial on how to make your own fabric face mask from common household materials. The ME Action Network are regularly updating their worldwide COVID-19 Resources for People with ME.
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.
Please #clapforourcarers every Thursday at 8pm BST.
Frequently Asked Questions (UK)
- Who is classed as vulnerable by the government?
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.
Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK
- Who is being told to start 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
Useful medical information when treating COVID-19 in patients with underlying myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and severe fibromyalgia (FM)
- What are the new rules for daily life?
The Prime Minister has ordered people only to leave their homes under a list of "very limited purposes", banned public gatherings of more than two people and ordered the closure of non-essential shops.
Retailers that will be allowed to stay open include: supermarkets and other food shops, medical services, pharmacies and chemists, petrol stations, bicycle shops, hardware shops and equipment, plant and tool hire, veterinary surgeries and pet shops, agricultural supplies shops, corner shops and newsagents, off-licences, laundrettes and dry cleaners, Post Offices, vehicle rental services, car garages and MOT services, car parks, high street banks, building societies, short-term loan providers, credit unions and cash points, storage and distribution facilities and public toilets. Businesses will still be able to take online orders and deliver items to people's homes.
PM address to the nation on coronavirus: 23 March 2020
Full guidance on staying at home and away from others
Further businesses and premises to close: guidance