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COVID-19 legal advice hub

Should sufferers of asbestos related disease be concerned about COVID-19?

These unprecedented and uncertain times are of great concern to those suffering from asbestos related illness. Our asbestos related disease experts answer some of the most frequently asked questions during this difficult time.

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I’ve got an asbestos related illness. Should I be concerned about the new coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The new coronavirus, COVID-19, is a respiratory illness which can range in severity from person to person from mild infections to much more serious. Those most at risk of serious infections include:

  • People over 70
  • People under 70 with underlying health conditions (including respiratory illnesses)
  • People with compromised immune systems (such as people who have cancer)
  • Pregnant women

It’s therefore no surprise that those who are suffering from an asbestos related illness are concerned of infection, given the respiratory problems which can be faced by them. The Government are updating us daily on this pandemic with information about what to do and how to keep safe. It’s important that you keep fully up to date and follow the guidance in place, particularly if you’re someone who’s at risk of serious infection.

What should I do to keep safe?

The NHS have confirmed that they’ll be contacting those at particularly high risk of getting seriously ill with coronavirus from Monday, 23 March 2020. However, it’s important to follow the guidance which has already been issued in the meantime, which includes:

  • Significantly limit your face-to-face interactions with friends and family and avoid contact with anyone displaying symptoms.
  • Avoid using public transport and stay at home where possible, avoiding public places such as cinemas, theatres etc.
  • Ask family, friends and neighbours to help you when you need supplies such as food and medicine, to avoid going out.
  • You can also use online services for supplies.
  • Make sure you wash your hands regularly with soap and water or hand sanitiser, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze and ensure you throw the tissue immediately in the bin and wash your hands.
  • Don’t visit your hospital, GP or pharmacy. The NHS are advising that if you think you have symptoms of the coronavirus, you should - A. Use the NHS 111 Online Coronavirus Service, but only if you can’t cope with the symptoms at home, your condition gets worse or your symptoms don’t get better after seven days; or B. Call the NHS on 111, but only if you can’t cope with the symptoms at home, your condition gets worse or your symptoms don’t get better after seven days, and you can’t get the help you need from the NHS 111 Online Coronavirus Service.

I don’t know how I’ll cope in self isolation, I’m already at a low point in my life. What should I do?

We understand that for those who are already suffering from an asbestos related illness, self-isolating can be difficult for your mental well-being. However, there are simple things you can do to help keep you motivated and look after your health.

  • Exercise – The NHS provide ideas for simple exercises you can do at home. You can also take a walk, providing you stay at least 2 metres away from anyone else. The fresh air can often be good for your mental well-being.
  • Hobbies – Try to find things to do which you enjoy, whether that be reading, writing, watching TV or cooking.
  • Natural light – If it’s a sunny day, open your windows, let some natural light in and even go out into the garden if you can.
  • Keep in touch with friends and family – Although social distancing means you’ll be avoiding regular visitors, make sure you keep in touch with them by phone, text, Skype, etc. Being able to talk to others and share experiences is not only important for your own mental wellbeing, but also for those you’re talking too. It’s in this hour of need we need to rely on others and keep each other safe.

If you are suffering with your mental health at this time, there are a number of charities and support groups that can provide help and guidance.

Where will I find more information about coronavirus?

There’s currently advice all over the internet. However, the official websites which contain information include:

The Department of Health and Social Care

NHS

Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO)

PLEASE NOTE: this information was correct at the time of publication on 19 March 2020

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