Your questions about PH & coronavirus
Reviewed 4th August 2020 at 9.20am
Are people with pulmonary hypertension classed as extremely clinically vulnerable?
After the National PH Centres Directors’ submission to NHS England, in April people with pulmonary hypertension were recognised in the extremely vulnerable group of patients.
How long do I need to shield for?
People living in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland no longer need to shield. In Wales, people have been advised to shield until 16th August.
Do I need to wear a mask?
In all UK countries, people are being encouraged, if they can, to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible, or when you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
It is now a requirement to use a face covering when taking public transport in England, Scotland and Wales. It is also a requirement in shops, takeaways and banks in England and Scotland. All hospital visitors and outpatients also have to wear face coverings.
From 8th August, it will become compulsory in England to wear a face covering in more indoor settings, such as cinemas and libraries. You can see the full list here
Young children and those who have breathing difficulties, or are disabled, are exempt.
WE HAVE CREATED AN EXEMPTION NOTICE THAT YOU CAN SHOW IF YOU ARE CHALLENGED FOR NOT WEARING A MASK. PLEASE CLICK HERE
The British Lung Foundation has the following advice about face coverings:
Wearing a face covering may reduce the risk of spreading infection by protecting people you come into contact with. Face coverings do not replace social distancing.
People with breathing problems and children under 2 or others who may find it difficult should not use face coverings.
If you feel comfortable wearing a mask when you’re in a public place and it’s hard to keep 2 metres away from other people, and you choose to wear a mask, please use a cloth covering and not a mask designed for clinical use. The NHS needs these supplies. You should also wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.
What should I do about going back to work now shielding has come to an end?
You should follow social distancing carefully and only go to work if your workplace has measures in places to keep you safe. The government has issued these guidelines for employers to ensure their places of work are ‘Covid secure’.
This guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides more accessible information that is useful for employees as well as employers.
If you are able to continue working from home, your employer should support you to do this.
We advise you to talk to your employer as soon as possible about plans to help you return to work.
If your employer is not understanding about your needs, or about any concerns you may have, please show them this web page.
You can get advice on your specific situation and your employment rights by visiting the Acas website or calling the Acas helpline, 0300 123 1100.
Should I be worried about restrictions easing and shielding coming to an end?
It is good news that due to a significant drop in the Covid-19 infection rate, people with underlying conditions like pulmonary hypertension can now start to explore something of a more ‘normal’ way of life.
Our emotional and mental health are just as important as physical health. Getting out and about safely is very beneficial for both.
At the same time, we understand that many of you may be feeling anxious about this. You must make decisions that you feel personally comfortable with and it’s important to take things slowly if you are worried.
If you have been doing little or no exercise over the last few months, again it’s important to build your fitness and strength back up gradually. Don’t expect too much too soon. Do be kind to yourself.
There has been a noticeable shift in emphasis from the government, which reflects the reduced risk of infection.
We are no longer being told what we ‘can’ or ‘can’t’ do; instead we are being given guidance, based on science, with the emphasis on us as individuals to make our own decisions.
We cannot guarantee that following the government guidance will be 100% ‘safe’, as no-one can, and nothing in life is – including staying at home. But government decisions are based on scientific evidence and we encourage you to follow their advice.
It is particularly vital that even if you are worried about going out, you continue engaging with normal healthcare. If you need to seek treatment for a condition, please do. Don’t ignore symptoms. Remember that there is capacity within the NHS and it is important not to swap one problem for another.
Finally, much of the news is focused on the possibility of a ‘second wave’ of Covid-19. It is inevitable that the lifting of restrictions may result in increased infection rates, but we would urge you to exercise caution when interpreting media headlines.
Health anxiety has always been around, but it’s now become part of the national conversation. It is very normal to have concerns about our health.
The NHS is far more prepared now and lessons have been learned. Every year we see seasonal spikes in flu and other diseases during the winter months. It may be that we learn to live with the existence Covid-19 in much the same way; but it’s important that we all do what we can to enjoy a good quality of life at the same time.
How can I minimise the risk of spreading or contracting coronavirus?
- Regular hand washing is still the most effective thing that you can do to decrease your risk of infection. Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, in particular after being in public places. Avoid touching your face as much as possible. Make sure everyone around you is practising good hand washing techniques.
- Carry hand sanitiser with you outside of the home and use it regularly, especially if you are unable to wash your hands.
- Observe social distancing in line with government advice (ideally 2 metres)
- Make sure you have been fully vaccinated against other preventable infections, including the influenza vaccination.
- Eating a good diet, getting enough sleep and taking regular exercise (within your capabilities) all help to ensure you stay as well as possible.
Can I get tested for coronavirus if I think I have symptoms?
Yes. Everyone in the UK is now able to be tested for coronavirus if they are experiencing symptoms.
The main symptoms of coronavirus are:
- A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms. This link explains how to go about getting a test.