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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.

Relevant guidance and public health advice (such as physical distancing rules and enhanced hygiene measures) will apply to all changes.

Key points are as follows:

You should:

·         wear a face covering

·         avoid crowded places

·         clean hands and surfaces regularly

·         stay 2m away from other people

·         self-isolate and book a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms

With effect from Friday 10 July

·         Mandatory face coverings in shops and other retail

·         Outdoors – a household can meet up to 4 other households at a time – up to 15 people in total

·         Indoors – a household can meet up to 2 other households at a time – up to 8 people in total. This includes overnight stays

·         A household can meet up to 4 other households per day in total (this is in total – meetings indoors and/or outdoors)

·         The limit on the number of other households you can meet per day (indoors or outdoors) doesn't apply to young people who are younger than 18.

·         Children aged 11 or under no longer need to physically distance indoors. Young people aged 12-17 must continue to physically distance

·         Extended Households: Non cohabiting partners (and any children under 18 in their households) can form an extended household without physical distancing


For the most up-to date advice keep checking the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland’s coronavirus pages.

Public Services continue to scale up and re-open safely including NHS Mobilisation Plan
Schools: From 11 August: Children to be able to return to school full time (conditional on on-going scientific and health advice.) The blended model of schooling remains a contingency plan.

Shielding: The changes above do not apply to people who are shielding. Have a look here for further guidance which sets out the planned changes to guidance for people who have been advised to shield.

Public transport continues to scale up to full services during this phase with a move to 1 metre physical distancing, subject to appropriate risk mitigations, releasing further capacity in vehicles and vessels. Wearing a face mask is mandatory on all public transport.


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: 16/07/2020

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