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First breakdown of figures by NHS reveals there may be a higher risk for people with diabetes contracting Covid-19

First breakdown of figures by NHS reveals there may be a higher risk for people with diabetes contracting Covid-19

People with diabetes make up a quarter of Covid-19 deaths in English hospitals.

Published: May 15, 2020
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The first breakdown of underlying health conditions among people who have died from Covid-19 (coronavirus) at hospitals in England by the NHS has found one in four people also had diabetes.

Figures recorded by NHS England between 31st March and 12th May, showed that of the 22,332 people who died in hospital in England, 5,873 (26%) suffered from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

The news highlights the importance for people with diabetes to self-isolate as much as possible in line with government Covid-19 lockdown guidelines.

Diabetes was the most common illness found in a study of what existing conditions patients had.

The other common additional health conditions people who died from Covid-19 had reported were dementia (18%), serious breathing problems (15%) and chronic kidney disease (14%). One in ten (10%) suffered from ischaemic heart disease.

Previous anecdotal reports from intensive care doctors that many of the coronavirus patients they have been treating during the pandemic had underlying diabetes, were confirmed by the report, that was backed up by additional research by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre.

Professor Partha Kar, National Specialty Advisor for Diabetes with NHS England and Consultant in Diabetes and Endocrinology at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “It is clear that people with diabetes are more at risk of dying from Covid-19 and more detailed analysis is currently underway to understand the link between the two, although initial findings indicate that the threat in people under 40 continues to be very low.

“The NHS has put extra measures in place so that people living with diabetes can manage their condition better during the pandemic, including a range of online services, video consultations with your local clinical team and a dedicated helpline for those who need advice.”

The recently published NHS England report did not specify how many of the 5,873 people with diabetes who died had type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition not related to lifestyle, and type 2 diabetes, which is closely linked to being overweight.

Additional information is set to be published in a journal report over the coming days with detailed analysis of data based on type of diabetes, control, age will be published shortly along with more details on focussed interventions and helpline.

NHS has issued the following recommendations to help prevent the spread of the virus:

How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus


  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds.
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work.
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands when you cough or sneeze).
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.


  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Handwashing advice to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

Wash your hands with soap and water more often for 20 seconds following these steps:

  1. Palm to palm 2. The backs of hands 3. In between fingers 4. The back of the fingers 5. The thumbs 6. The tips of the fingers

To isolate your household, the advice is to stay at home -

If you or anyone in your household has a high temperature or a new and continuous cough – even if it is mild

  • Everyone in your household must stay at home for 14 days and keep away from others
  • Go to NHS.UK to check your symptoms and follow the specialist medical advice. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot get online or your symptoms worsen
  • Protect older people and those with existing health conditions by avoiding contact
  • Put a sign in your door advising others Please DO NOT enter this building

Public Health England has published a range of Coronavirus (COVID-19) public information materials to inform the general public about how they can help protect themselves and others and help prevent the spread of virus.

While aimed at all members of the public, the guidelines are also relevant for people living with diabetes.

If you need medical help or have a query regarding the virus, the NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.

Use the 111 coronavirus service here

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Call 111 if you need to speak to someone. If there is a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate) for up to 14 days.
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