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Tuesday 14th July 2020

Coronavirus: Underlying health conditions putting victims at risk explained as UK death toll reaches 55

Diabetes and asthma are just some of the conditions putting people at risk

Coronavirus has resulted in millions of Brits being told to cease all non-essential travel and contact to help combat the spread of the deadly Covid-19.

And while the Government has insisted that for many people, Coronavirus will be a mild to moderate illness no worse than a seasonal cold or flu, for others it could prove much more serious.

For many, Coronavirus will be no worse than a cold (Credit: Pexels)

Elderly people are deemed to be at a heightened risk of dying from the bug, and pregnant women have also been advised to take extra precautions.

But it is those with underlying health conditions who are most at risk from the respiratory disease.

What are the underlying health conditions?

Writing for Al Jazeera, one doctor listed several that put people at an increased risk - diabetes, heart conditions and asthma or COPD.

People with asthma are being advised to keep their inhalers on them at all times amid the Coronavirus outbreak (Credit: Pixabay)

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Dr Amir Khan wrote: "There is a good chance that even those who have underlying health conditions will make a full recovery from the virus, but they are at increased risk of complications such as shortness of breath, pneumonia, and in some cases, needing a machine and intensive hospital treatment to help them breathe."

Public Health England has said that coronavirus is more of a threat to people with weaker immune systems - whether as a result of a health condition or its treatment - and those with either long-term or chronic illnesses.

Ireland's health service has published a list of things that can bring down a person's immunity - and therefore place them at risk in the coronavirus crisis.

On its website, the service said that cancer treatment; treatment for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS) and inflammatory bowel diseases; and HIV are all known to weaken the body's immune system.

There is a good chance that even those who have underlying health conditions will make a full recovery.

Those who have recently had an organ transplant or bone-marrow transplant are also in this category.

But the health service was quick to point out that people should not stop having their treatment.

Similarly, smokers are at risk. That's according to UK charity Quit, which states on its website:  "We know that [smokers] are at a higher risk of getting lung and chest infections in general. This means that it's more likely than not that people who smoke have a higher risk of getting Covid-19 compared to people who don't smoke."

Smokers are believed to have an increased risk of getting Covid-19 (Credit: Pixabay)

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"Continue to attend for any planned treatment," its advice read. "Unless you have been told not to."

How are people with asthma at risk of coronavirus?

Around 5.4million people in the UK currently have asthma, and according to Asthma UK's head of health advice, Jessica Kirby, respiratory viruses like coronavirus could trigger symptoms and "lead to an asthma attack".

She said, as reported by Sky News: "It is essential that you take your preventer, daily as prescribed. This helps cut the risk of an asthma attack being triggered by any virus, including coronavirus. Keeping a reliever inhaler to hand is vital, so you can use it if you get asthma symptoms."

Similarly, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Prof. Van-Tam was asked about adults with asthma on BBC News and said: "I don't want to go into enormous detail into every single risk group but we are saying it is the people who are offered flu vaccines, other than children, who fit into that risk category, people for whom the advice is very strong about social distancing."

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