About coronavirus

The pandemic continues to influence our lives – however you are affected by dementia. Find out about vaccines as well as information on tests and treatment for coronavirus. This includes rehabilitation for long COVID.

As coronavirus and the restrictions continue to bring changes and challenges, we have advice and practical tips for people living with dementia and those supporting them – either in the same household or from a distance.

We will update this information regularly, including details of support and services from Alzheimer's Society. This will help you get through this period of change, so do come back to see what’s available. 

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What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus causes an illness (COVID-19) that mainly affects your lungs and airways.

Symptoms in most people will go unnoticed or be mild – a high temperature or new continuous cough, or loss of sense of smell or taste. Some people will also have difficulty with breathing (shortness of breath). 

In a few people, symptoms will go on for months after the coronavirus infection is gone. This is known as long COVID and needs help to manage.

A few people with COVID-19 will get severe symptoms and need medical attention. Older people and those with a long-term health condition (for example, lung disease, heart failure, diabetes) or a weakened immune system (for example, because of HIV or chemotherapy) are more likely to get severe symptoms. As for long COVID, survivors of severe COVID-19 often need support for months afterwards.

The higher-risk groups for severe coronavirus illness include almost everyone with dementia, and many older family carers. 

NHS advice on coronavirus

Visit the NHS website for the latest medical advice to protect yourself and others. 

Latest NHS advice

Advice for everyone

Even as pressure on the NHS eases, we must all continue to fight coronavirus. It spreads very easily and not everyone with coronavirus infection has symptoms.

The most important ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus have not changed. For everyone everywhere, they are:

  • regular hand washing
  • wearing a face covering when inside public places (except when eating or drinking) – unless exempt
  • social distancing (two metres where possible)
  • meeting outdoors or letting fresh air in.   

This gradual easing of national restrictions has been made possible by the national vaccination programme, by more widespread testing and by people following guidance during past lockdowns. This has all meant far fewer people are now going into hospital with COVID-19.

Advice is slightly different across the UK (see below), but it all helps to limit close contact with people from outside your household

In England, following the guidance from 17 May, the emphasis is still on being cautious – within the guidelines, some of which are listed below. However, with greater freedom about what we can do and where we can go, people can make informed decisions for themselves about what level of risk they feel comfortable with. 

From 17 May, the guidance allows you to:

  • meet in a group of up to 30 people outdoors
  • socialise with friends and families indoors – subject to the ‘rule of six’ (or two households of any size)
  • stay overnight with people outside your household
  • sit indoors at pubs, restaurants and cafes
  • go to a wedding with up to 30 people indoors or a funeral service with any number 
  • visit a museum, cinema or theatre indoors
  • go to an adult indoor sports or exercise group
  • stay in a hotel, hostel or B&B.

The rules and timelines are broadly similar in Wales and in Northern Ireland, so check the specific guidance about going out for the area where you live. 

Restrictions by country

Visit the GOV.UK website to find out more. 

What are the rules where I live?

Even when following the rules, social distancing means keeping two metres (three steps) away from anyone not in your household wherever we can. This isn’t always possible, especially indoors. If this is the case, keeping a one metre distance with extra precautions such as extra ventilation or a face covering is allowed (not in Wales or Northern Ireland). 

Use public transport at quieter times if you can. A face covering should be worn on public transport and in shops (our blog post on face coverings explains the law on this in different countries), where it’s harder to keep two metres away from people.

These rules apply to everyone, although people with dementia and those living with them should follow the rules particularly closely. They should take extra care to limit contact with others outside their household. This is because people with dementia and older people in general are at higher risk of severe illness if they catch coronavirus.

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