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Coronavirus: specific advice for people living with diabetes

To avoid catching or spreading Coronavirus

Having Diabetes does NOT mean you are more likely to catch Coronavirus.  However, if you do catch Coronaviruses, it can cause more severe symptoms and complications in people with diabetes. More severe symptoms are also likely in older people, and those with other long-term conditions such as cancer or chronic lung disease.

Further easing of lockdown measures are in place in Scotland as it moves into Phase 2. These will be introduced in different stages rather than all at once to reduce any spread of infection.  The three main measures that are still in place:

  • Staying at home as much as possible
  • Closing certain business and venues
  • Stopping most gathering of more than 3 households

However, over the next few weeks these measures will be changed and controlling the spread of coronavirus will rely less on people staying at home, and more on people following hygiene measures and physical distancing.

  • You can now leave the house for the following reasons:
  • shopping for basic necessities (such as food and medicine) and at other shops that are open
  • exercise and other outdoor activity alone or with members of up to two other households at a time. For rules on forming an extended household, see Meeting others
  • to use outdoor spaces for other recreational purposes - for example to sit or relax alone or with members of up to two other households at a time
  • to ensure basic animal welfare needs are met, including taking dogs out
  • for any medical need, including to donate blood, to avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help someone who may be at risk
  •  travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home
  • to access recycling or waste disposal services - for example, local authority household waste recycling centres
  • to attend a place of worship for one of the permitted uses (to attend a funeral service, to broadcast an act of worship, to carry out essential voluntary services or for individual prayer or contemplation, alone or with members of your household) 

You may move house, but only if it is reasonably necessary. From 29 June a wider range of house moves will be permitted.

When doing these activities, you should ensure you are at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not a member of your household or of your extended household. These measures must be followed by everyone.


If your GP is closed, phone NHS 24 (111). In addition, it is now recommended that all individuals living in the same household as a symptomatic person should self-isolate for 14 days (household isolation). Information on COVID-19, including “stay at home” advice for people who are self-isolating and their households, can be found on NHS Inform.


If you have diabetes and start to feel unwell you need to follow the sick day rules for type 1 or type 2 and check your blood glucose frequently.


Other TIPS to keep safe and well

If you have type 1 diabetes

  • Ensure you have enough glucose and ketone testing equipment
  • Be aware of you sick day rules provided by your diabetes educator team
  • Make sure you have a good stock of insulin pens, needles and any other medications you are prescribed
  • Stay hydrated – have plenty of unsweetened drinks and eat little and often
  • If you are an insulin pump user you should have insulin pens as a backup and a good supply of insulin pump consumables
  • Make sure your diabetes technical device  (insulin pump /continuous glucose monitor/Freestyle Libre device is in good working order and if you have any concerns phone the company who supplies your device directly to troubleshoot and arrange a replacement if necessary.

If you have type 2 diabetes

  • Ensure you have enough glucose testing equipment and if appropriate ketone testing strips (this might be if you have had your diabetes for a long time or have had ketones in the past). Ketones are uncommon in type 2 but remain a risk if glucose is high for a significant time &/or during illness. 
  • Make sure you have a good stock of your medications, orals tablets &/or injectable therapies. 
  • Be aware of you sick day rules provided by your diabetes educator team
  • Stay hydrated – have plenty of unsweetened drinks and eat little and often


This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.

For the most up-to-date advice then keep checking the UK government, NHS Inform and NHS websites.

Additional JDRF advice for Type 1 diabetes:,13X1L,3XRNUY,3W3B2,1 


  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently – wash for at least 20 seconds
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water isn’t available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands
  • Try to avoid close contact with people that are unwell


  • Touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • Do not use pocket handkerchiefs as these are unhygienic, instead use single use tissues. 


How coronavirus can affect people with diabetes

Everybody that has diabetes, no matter whether type 1, type 2 or gestational, is at risk of developing a severe illness if they get coronavirus, but the way it can affect you varies from person to person.

When you are ill and have diabetes, your blood glucose levels can be unstable as your body is trying to fight the illness. Your body starts releasing stored glucose into your bloodstream to give you energy. As a person with diabetes, your body either cannot produce insulin or the insulin you produce doesn't work as well. This causes your blood glucose levels to rise further. There is a risk of both high and low blood glucose levels as your body is working overtime to fight the illness.

For most people, the coronavirus causes a mild illness, but some people can develop a more serious form of the virus which can be life-threatening.


Shielding advice

In addition to the shielding advice outlined in the last update from the Scottish Government, people who are shielding can also participate in non-contact outdoor activities such as golf, can meet one other household outdoors.  People should continue to be stringent in following social distancing measures, remaining at least 2 metres apart from others and frequent hand washing.   

Last updated: 19/06/2020

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