Am I classified as “at risk”? Should I be self-isolating?

March 23rd, 2020

Most people who catch COVID-19 will likely experience mild symptoms and be back to normal health within days. Some people, though, are more at risk of serious illness than others.

What is a risk group?

There are certain groups of people who are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 in the first place, and of the illness hitting them harder if they do. Most importantly, being in a risk group means you are “at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus”, according to government guidance.

Broadly, there are four risk groups:

1 – Over-70s, regardless of any medical conditions.

2 – Under-70s who have an underlying health condition – in other words, adults who are advised to have the flu jab every year on medical grounds. This group includes people who have:

  • Long-term respiratory or lung disease, like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Long-term heart disease, like heart failure.
  • Long-term kidney disease.
  • Long-term liver disease, like hepatitis.
  • Diabetes.
  • Long-term neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy, or a learning disability.
  • Problems with their spleen like sickle cell anaemia, or have had their spleen removed.
  • A weakened immune system, either as a result of a medical condition like HIV or AIDS, or as a result of medications like corticosteroids or chemotherapy.
  • A body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above (being severely obese).

3 – Pregnant women

4 – People with complex health problems that put them at even higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. This group includes people who:

  • Have had an organ transplant and take medication to suppress their immune system.
  • Have cancer and are currently having active chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment.
  • Have blood or bone marrow cancer (like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma) and are at any stage of treatment.
  • Have severe respiratory/lung conditions like cystic fibrosis or severe asthma that requires admission to hospital or treatment with corticosteroids.
  • Have severe diseases of the body systems, like severe kidney disease that is managed with regular dialysis.