Coronavirus and asthma
People with severe asthma are at a higher risk of serious illness from coronavirus. If you have moderate to severe asthma, you need to follow the government guidelines on ‘shielding’ strictly.
Are people with asthma more at risk of coronavirus?
As coronavirus attacks the respiratory system, people with asthma are considered more at risk. The severity of this risk and the precautions you need to take depend on the severity of your asthma.
People with mild asthma are not more likely to get coronavirus, but if they do, it may make their asthma worse.
People with moderate-severe asthma do not have an increased risk of catching coronavirus but are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they do. They have been advised to follow social distancing rules strictly and to shield.
Does my asthma mean I need shielding?
If you have severe asthma, you will need shielding. People shielding should receive a letter from the government detailing what they need to do. If you haven’t received a letter and think you should have, you should contact your GP for more information.
While waiting for information from your GP, you should still follow the social distancing rules.
What extra precautions should I take if I am shielding?
If you have severe asthma and have been advised to shield, you should:
- Avoid contact with anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus
- Not leave your house for at least 12 weeks from the moment you receive the letter or text message
- Not attend any social gatherings, including weddings and religious services as well as family homes
- Not go out for shopping, travel or leisure purposes. You should have food and medication delivered. Deliveries should be left at the door for you to collect to avoid social contact
- Stay in touch with friends and family using remote technology including phone and social media, using the internet
If you have moderate asthma and haven’t received shielding advice, it is essential to follow the social distancing rules.
Remember, you must always carry your inhalers with you or have them within easy reach. You can order your asthma inhalers online from Zava. They will be delivered with contactless delivery to your home, so you do not need to leave your house.
What should I do if I develop symptoms or my asthma is getting worse?
If you feel your asthma is getting worse or you suspect you have coronavirus, use the online NHS 111 service or call NHS111:
- Tell them you have asthma, and you’re experiencing asthma symptoms
- Explain how often you have to use your reliever inhaler and if it’s not working as it should, or the effect is not lasting for 4 hours
- Follow the guidance they give you
- If the symptoms persist or get worse or you’re worried you’re having an asthma attack, call 999. Tell them you may have COVID-19 infection and are having an asthma attack
What should I do if I live with someone showing symptoms, and I have asthma?
If you live with someone who starts to show symptoms of coronavirus:
- Everyone in your household should self isolate for 14 days from the day the first person shows symptoms.
- If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you will need to stay home for at least 7 days, even if that goes beyond the 14 days you have already been at home
If you are shielding and anyone in your household develops coronavirus symptoms, you should:
- Minimise the length of time you each spend in shared spaces in the house, like the kitchen and bathroom, and make sure they are well ventilated
- Keep 2 metres apart from people you live with and sleep in separate beds where possible
- use a separate bathroom from everyone else. If this isn’t possible, it should be cleaned after every use
- not share towels
- avoid sharing the kitchen. Try not to use it when someone else is there. You should take your meals back to your room to eat and if you can, use a dishwasher to clean crockery and cutlery. If you can’t, wash and dry them thoroughly after every use. Avoid sharing cutlery and use your tea towels to dry up
- Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face
- Clean frequently touched surfaces like tables, door handles and taps
Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Expansion
Babak studied medicine at King’s College London and graduated in 2003, having also gained a bachelor’s degree in Physiology during his time there. He completed his general practice (GP) training in East London, where he worked for a number of years as a partner at a large inner-city GP practice. He completed the Royal College of GPs membership exam in 2007.Meet our doctors
Last reviewed: 24 Apr 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19). (2020) Asthma UK [accessed 11 April 2020]
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Advice for the Public. (2020) WHO [accessed 11 April 2020]
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) People with Asthma. (2020) CDC [accessed 11 April 2020]
Do Chronic Respiratory Diseases or Their Treatment Affect the Risk of SARS-CoV-2 Infection? (2020) The Lancet [accessed 11 April 2020]
Guidance on Shielding and Protecting People Defined on Medical Grounds as Extremely Vulnerable from CVID-19. (2020) Public Health England [accessed 11 April 2020]