About coronavirus (COVID-19)

What is coronavirus (COVID-19) and am I at risk?

Coronaviruses are common across the world. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus.

The most common symptoms are a continuous cough and/or a high temperature (fever). People may also lose their sense of taste or smell. For most people, COVID-19 will be a mild infection.

However, some people are more vulnerable to getting severe symptoms.

There are 2 levels of higher risk:

  1. high risk – people who are clinically extremely vulnerable
  2. moderate risk – people who are clinically vulnerable


High risk – clinically extremely vulnerable:

  • have had an organ transplant
  • are having chemotherapy or antibody treatment for cancer, including immunotherapy
  • are having an intense course of radiotherapy (radical radiotherapy) for lung cancer
  • are having targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system (such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors)
  • have blood or bone marrow cancer (such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma)
  • have had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in the past 6 months, or are still taking immunosuppressant medicine
  • have been told by a doctor they have a severe lung condition (such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD)
  • have a condition that means they have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID or sickle cell)
  • are taking medicine that makes them much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids or immunosuppressant medicine)
  • have a serious heart condition and are pregnant

People who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable will have received a letter from their GP and are highly advised to shield to protect themselves from COVID-19.

From 1 August 2020, shielding will be paused. The Government continues to advise people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to take extra care to protect themselves from COVID-19, such as following social distancing guidelines and to stay at home as much as possible.



Moderate risk – clinically vulnerable

People at moderate risk from coronavirus include people who:

  • are 70 or older
  • have a lung condition that’s not severe (such as asthma, COPD, emphysema or bronchitis)
  • have heart disease (such as heart failure)
  • have diabetes
  • have chronic kidney disease
  • have liver disease (such as hepatitis)
  • have a condition affecting the brain or nerves (such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy)
  • have a condition that means they have a high risk of getting infections
  • are taking medicine that can affect the immune system (such as low doses of steroids)
  • are very obese (a BMI of 40 or above)
  • are pregnant

People classed as clinically vulnerable will not get a letter from the NHS, This group are advised to continue to follow the Government guidance on keeping themselves safe, such as following social distancing rules and maintaining good hygiene.



Last updated: 1 July 2020, 12.56pm