Understanding coronavirus and Parkinson’s

Although Parkinson’s is different for everyone, current UK government advice for people with Parkinson’s is to stay at home and limit your social contacts as much as possible.

Check the guidance for your local area. This may be different to the advice in the rest of your country.

This page was originally published on 3 March 2020. It was updated on 26 November 2020 at 5.30pm to reflect the latest guidance. This advice is updated as new information becomes available.

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We have a range of information and support to help you during this challenging time. Our friendly, expert helpline advisers are also available to take your call if you have any concerns or questions, or need further advice.

Parkinson's and coronavirus (COVID-19)

I have Parkinson’s, am I more at risk of coronavirus? What precautions should I take?

If you have Parkinson's, you have no increased risk of getting coronavirus.

While the government has said people with Parkinson’s are more at risk of complications if they get coronavirus, the advice for people with Parkinson’s is the same as for anyone who is not advised to shield.

Why do people with Parkinson's have an increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus?

Parkinson’s can cause respiratory issues for some people. If you have advanced Parkinson’s or have lived with the condition for a long time, you’re more likely to have breathing and respiratory difficulties. Coronavirus affects your lungs and airways. This is why people with Parkinson's are described as being at greater risk of severe illness if they get coronavirus.

How might coronavirus affect Parkinson’s medication?

If you do become unwell with a virus of any kind, it’s important to keep taking the medication prescribed to you for Parkinson’s.

Our Clinical Director, Dr Donald Grosset, advises: “You should not suddenly stop taking your prescribed medication for Parkinson’s, as that can cause additional problems. However, missing a small number of doses – because of vomiting, for example – will not cause you harm.

“Follow the advice given to you by your health professional who might adjust your tablets or dose, depending on your condition.”

I live with or care for someone with Parkinson’s. What should I do?

If you’re caring for someone with Parkinson’s, you should always follow the guidance where you live. In addition to this, there are some simple steps that you can take to protect them and reduce their risk:

  • work from home if you can.
  • limit contact with other people.
  • keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible).
  • wash your hands and clothes regularly.
  • find out about different sources of support that could be used and access further advice on creating a contingency plan available from Carers UK.

Arrange a test, and self-isolate if you, or anyone in your household, has symptoms. This should be for a period of 10 days.

The person you live with, or care for, might like a booklet with information and support about Parkinson's and coronavirus. You can order a copy of this booklet, free of charge, here.

It’s really important to look after your own wellbeing and physical health during this time. Further information on this is available on our website.

I'm staying at home or isolating and I need practical help. What support is available?

We can support you to find practical help locally. Please call our helpline

You can also read about how we’re fighting for you in this crisis, all over the UK.

What should I do?

Follow the guidance where you live

You must follow the guidance where you live. You can find out about local restrictions on the relevant government websites:

  • England. England is in a national lockdown until 2 December. These restrictions replace any previous restrictions in your local area. You must stay at home, except for specific purposes, and to avoid meeting people you do not live with, except for specific purposes.
  • Northern Ireland. Current restrictions are in place until midnight 26 November. New restrictions come into force at 12.01am on 27 November until 11 December. Read the new restrictions here.
  • Scotland. Alongside national guidelines, local protection levels were introduced in Scotland from 2 November. Check the protection level for your area and find out what you can and cannot do under each level.
  • Wales. A new set of national rules for Wales was introduced on 9 November. Check what you can and cannot do under these rules.

Stay at home and limit social contacts as much as possible

Guidance for people who are clinically vulnerable, including people with Parkinson’s, says that it’s important to stay at home and limit social contacts as much as possible. Follow distancing and hygiene guidelines if you do go out.

If you do need to leave your home, the UK government advises people to think ‘Hands. Face. Space’:

  • You should wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds.
  • You should wear a face covering in enclosed spaces.
  • You should give people outside of your household space of at least 2 metres, or 1 metre where other measures are in place. 

Look after your wellbeing and mental health

During this pandemic, it's especially important to take extra care of your wellbeing and mental health. We've published an article on how to cope if you're feeling isolated.

The charity, Mind, have put together some helpful guidance on wellbeing and coronavirus. And the British Red Cross have online resources and tools to help you tackle loneliness.

The NHS is urging people with mental health worries to seek help during the pandemic. If you're experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression or other worries, you can access NHS talking therapies. Find out more about NHS talking therapies.

Wear a face covering

If you have to be in an indoor space, it’s best to wear a face covering. Face coverings on public transport, shops and other indoor places are compulsory throughout the UK. You may also be asked to wear one in other situations, like hospitals or GP surgeries. 

You can see how to make and wear a face covering here. We also sell face coverings and filters in our shop here.

You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a good reason not to. If you have a physical or mental illness, or a disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering, you do not have to wear one. You do not have to provide medical evidence of your reason for not wearing a face covering.

For exemptions and guidance in different parts of the UK you can refer to the specific guidance for the country you’re in.

If you feel more comfortable, you can carry a face covering exempt card. You can download and print one free of charge here. The second and third cards under the heading, 'Learning disability cards' are suitable for anyone with Parkinson's who cannot wear a face covering.

I volunteer with people with Parkinson’s. What should I do?

Your health and wellbeing, and your support, is important. So, our priority at this stage is supporting you to restart only what is necessary and safe.

If you’re thinking about getting started, you’ll find all the information you need on our volunteer portal, Assemble. You can also get in touch with your staff contact. They’ll be able to guide you through resources co-designed by volunteers and staff, and start what is safe to do so. The starting point for all plans will be local and UK government guidance. Find out more in the latest update on our approach to in-person activities. 

Am I clinically extremely vulnerable?

Measures for people who are extremely vulnerable 

Some people are at very high risk of severe illness and hospital admission from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition. If you are in this group, you will previously have received a letter from the NHS or from your GP telling you this. You may have been advised to shield in the past.
If you are affected, you should follow the guidance where you live:  

If you're unsure and need to talk to someone, we're here. Call our helpline on 0808 800 0303..

Can I form a support bubble, or extended household?

Support bubbles and extended households are intended to help you if you’re lonely and feeling isolated, or if you need to care for or support someone else. There are different rules about support bubbles depending on where you live in the UK. 

If you meet the criteria within guidance for your area, you can form a support bubble or extend your household.

Staying up to date on coronavirus around the UK

Coronavirus testing and contact tracing - what do I do?

If you, or anyone in your household, has symptoms, you should isolate for at least 10 days.

Each country in the UK has announced systems for coronavirus testing and contact tracing to control the spread of the virus.

Testing and tracing means that, if you have symptoms, you can arrange a test. If your test comes back positive, you will be asked about who you’ve been in close contact with in the 2 days before, and 10 days after, developing symptoms. Close contact means: 

  • people you’ve spent 15 minutes or more with at a distance of less than 2 metres
  • people you've had direct contact with - such as sexual partners, household members or people with whom you’ve had face-to-face conversations at a distance of less than 1 metre.

Those people will be notified by phone, email, or text that they should isolate for 14 days. They won’t be told who they were in contact with who had the virus. 

If you are notified that you may have been in contact with the virus, you must self-isolate for 14 days even if you do not have symptoms.

How will I know if a notification is genuine?

If you've been advised by one of the country testing and tracing services to isolate, please do so. Trace callers will never ask you for details that could put your privacy or finances at risk.

The BBC has shared advice on how to avoid scams.

Mobile phone tracing apps

You can now download a free mobile phone app that will tell you if you have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus.

Download the app for England and Wales

Download the app for Northern Ireland

Download the app for Scotland

Where can I find up to date information and guidance?

These sources reflect the most up-to-date information and will be updated as the situation progresses.

We're here for you

We’re here for you throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Using our support tool, choose the topics that are important to you. We’ll show you the information that matters to you.