COVID-19 and diabetes

Andrew JM Boulton, President of International Diabetes Federation, informs us of IDF’s current position on the developing pandemic of the COVID-19 virus.

These are indeed very difficult times with the COVID-19 pandemic. At times of uncertainty it’s important that we all remain strong and supportive of each other.

There is no doubt in our minds that this is a serious development across the world but there is some reassurance from China that the peak has passed there and the number of new cases of COVID-19 is decreasing daily.

Numerous people have expressed concerns because diabetes is listed as a ‘chronic condition’ and there have been worries that infection with COVID-19 might be more serious in people with diabetes.

Young Type 1s

There is some relatively good news for our younger people with Type 1 diabetes and that is COVID-19 appears to be relatively mild in young people, especially in children.

There is also no doubt that several people get COVID-19 without any symptoms and for the majority who do have symptoms, these are relatively mild and similar to an attack of a cold or influenza. Of course, there are some greater risks for older people with diabetes, especially with the chronic complications.

Personal hygiene

There is no doubt, reading the advice from many experts in this area, that it behoves us all to take great care with personal hygiene whatever age, whether we have diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2) or are perfectly well with no other medical problems.

Most important is to encourage all our friends across the world to take special care with personal hygiene, such as washing hands regularly and carefully for at least 20 seconds; using alcohol gel to clean hands after washing and drying; avoiding intimate personal contact including hugs, kisses, handshaking, etc.

This can be difficult for those of us who are used to greeting friends in a seemingly friendlier way. But, at the present time, I would strongly recommend that you adopt other ways of greeting friends and relatives.

Travel advice

The situation is somewhat more complex regarding travel advice and certainly a lot of major gatherings and medical meetings have been cancelled or postponed because of this. There are a few countries for which strong advice has been given not to travel to until the situation is showing signs of resolution. Such countries include China, South Korea, Italy and Iran.

The advice for people living in countries with a number of cases is: travelling in crowded public transport should be avoided. But it appears that short flights do not carry any increase in risk because of frequent re-cycling of air on all modern planes.

South African COVID-19 hotline

National Institute for Communicable Diseases Corona Virus Emergency 24 hour Hotline 0800 029 999

What’s App 060 012 3456

IDF’s COVID-19 advice

The IDF has posted advice on the website and we are continually updating this. Click here.

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