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Managing diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic

02 November 2020
Volume 31 · Issue 11


People with diabetes are known to be more severely affected by COVID-19 than the general population. David Morris provides an overview of how to manage the illness in this group

The outbreak of a new viral infection in Wuhan, a city in Habei Province, China, became evident in December 2019. For most individuals who contract COVID-19 the disease is mild to moderate. Older people are disproportionately affected with serious disease, while children appear less likely to experience serious illness. A number of conditions are linked to increased severity of disease and poorer outcomes including both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This article looks at why those with diabetes are at higher risk, and how to manage diabetes during the pandemic.

The outbreak of a new viral infection in Wuhan, a city in Habei Province, China, became evident in December 2019. The origin of the infection appeared to be a seafood market and it seems likely that the COVID-19 virus crossed from animals to humans. It was soon clear that serious lung disease and increased mortality were possible consequences of acquiring this infection. The disease proved highly contagious and quickly spread to cause a global pandemic, arriving in the UK in late January 2020 (Seewoodhary and Oozageer, 2020).

The virus responsible for the disease known as COVID-19 was identified as SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), which belongs to the coronavirus group of viruses that commonly cause mild upper respiratory disease. Structurally the coronaviruses are composed of a single-strand of RNA surrounded by a lipid envelope that appears spherical under an electron microscope with a crown or ‘corona’ of spikes on the surface. Coronaviruses were also responsible for the epidemics of SARS-CoV in 2002 in China and MERS-CoV in 2012 in Saudi Arabia (BMJ Best Practice, 2020).

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