Home > At-risk groups and coronavirus.

Health Service Executive. (2020) At-risk groups and coronavirus. Dublin: HSE.

URL: https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/at-risk...

There are some groups of people who may be more at risk of serious illness if they catch coronavirus. But we do not think these groups have a higher risk of catching coronavirus. This is similar to other infections such as flu. You are more at risk of serious illness if you catch coronavirus and you:

- are 60 years of age and over - people over 75 are particularly vulnerable

- have a long-term medical condition - for example, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure

- have a weak immune system (immunosuppressed)

There are many things that can cause a weak immune system (immunosuppressed).

These include: - cancer treatment  - treatment for autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS) and inflammatory bowel diseases - HIV - having an organ transplant or a bone-marrow transplant. Other lung viruses can cause severe illness in people who have a weak immune system. This is likely to be the same for coronavirus. This is why you should take extra care if you have a weak immune system. This is similar for other infections, such as flu. Phone your doctor if you have any symptoms of coronavirus and are concerned. Continue to attend for any planned treatment, unless you have been told not to. If you have been in close contact with someone with coronavirus, phone the hospital before your appointment.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an acute respiratory infection. Respiratory infections are serious infections that affect normal breathing. A wide range of bacteria and viruses cause these infections. Smoking affects the immune system in the airways, lung tissue and throughout the body. This reduces your natural protection against infections, like coronavirus. This means that if you smoke:

-you have an increased risk of getting acute respiratory infections

-you have a greater risk of the infection lasting longer

-you have a greater risk of the infection being more serious than it would be for someone who does not smoke

Second-hand smoke has similar effects. Children who are exposed to smoke are at increased risk of acute respiratory infections. Stopping smoking reduces your risk of smoking-related illness. Reducing exposure to second-hand smoke is also important, especially for children.


See also:

 - Covid-19 harm reduction resources from UISCE (advocacy group for people who use drugs).

 - HSE drugs.ie - Corona virus and recovery

And, by Public Health England:

 - COVID-19: guidance for hostel or day centre providers of services for people experiencing rough sleeping - GOV.UK
Published 16 March 2020

 - COVID-19: residential care, supported living and home care guidance
Published 13 March 2020

 - COVID-19: guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people
Published 16 March 2020

British Geriatrics Society

 - COVID-19: Managing the COVID-19 pandemic in care homes

Date:24 March 2020
Corporate Creators:Health Service Executive
Place of Publication:Dublin
Subjects:G Health and disease > Disorder by cause > Communicable disease > Viral disease
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Health related prevention > Health information and education > Communicable disease control
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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