I have underlying health conditions – do I self-isolate, call 111 or 999? Dr Hilary answers your coronavirus questions


THE nation’s death toll is continuing to rise and it is vital we all take the necessary steps to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Dr Hilary Jones has been answering thousands of questions that have flooded into The Sun with his expertise helping to cut through the Covid-19 confusion. Need a question answered, go to thesun.co.uk/drhilary.

Today Dr Hilary – health editor for ITV’s Good Morning Britain – tells what people with underlying health conditions should be doing and when you should seek medical advice if you have the virus.

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 Today Dr Hilary answers questions from people with underlying health conditions
Today Dr Hilary answers questions from people with underlying health conditionsCredit: Getty – Contributor
 Dr Hilary Jones is here to help Sun readers and answer your coronavirus questions
Dr Hilary Jones is here to help Sun readers and answer your coronavirus questionsCredit: Rex Features

Q. I have several illnesses, including heart failure, and another heart condition.

Should I have received a letter to self-isolate?

A. Having two different heart conditions puts you in the vulnerable group so you have to stay at home as much as possible and practice physical distancing.

I’m surprised you haven’t had a letter but the administration of the system is not perfect and a few people fall through the net.

It makes sense for you to self-isolate anyway.

Q. Can people who have immunosuppression get mild symptoms?

A. The behaviour of this virus in individuals is unpredictable.

On the whole, immunosuppressed people need to take care.

But pregnant women, for example, are immunocompromised but they do not seem to be worse off than anyone else if they catch the virus.

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Q. I’m taking autoimmune suppressant medication following a liver transplant in 2003, as well as having Type 2 diabetes.

I am a key worker.

When is it be safe for me to go back to work?

A. Your medical history means you are in the high-risk group and should self-isolate for 12 weeks.

Your immunosuppressants mean that you need to be very careful trying not to leave the house, socially distancing and have deliveries brought to you.

Q. I had thyroid cancer more than ten years ago and I’m still being treated.

I have thyroxine hormones every day.

Does it mean I am at higher risk of catching coronavirus?

A. No. Your thyroid operation and the medication you take does not put you at any greater risk of the virus than anybody else.

Q. Can hay fever antihistamines affect the immune system’s ability to fight coronavirus?

A. The part of your immune system responsible for hay fever symptoms is different from the part of which fights infection.

So you are quite safe to take antihistamines.

Q. I have been very ill for three weeks.

When is it safe to go out?

A. Some people who contract this virus can feel very poorly for three to four weeks.

If you only have a dry cough and are feeling otherwise well, it is safe to go back to normal activities.

But otherwise you should rest.

Q. I have rheumatoid arthritis and I take weekly methotrexate and etanercept by injections.

I work in food retail.

Is it safe for me to go to work?

A. The medication you are taking means that you are slightly immunocompromised.

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Self-isolate as much as possible and avoid public-facing roles.

Q. I am asthmatic and I am unable to get my medication due to the virus. What should I do?

A. Pharmacies across the UK are arranging deliveries of medications.

Your regular pharmacy can do this.

There might also be volunteers locally who can deliver.

Q. My husband has coronavirus symptoms.

If he gets worse, when should I call the doctor or 999?

A. Many people who have tested positive only have mild symptoms.

They should self-isolate, along with the rest of the household, for 14 days.

Should somebody not be able to cope with these symptoms and, in particular, if they find it difficult to breathe, they should call NHS 111.

If it is very urgent, call 999.

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