The HMSA would like to reassure our followers and members that due to our operating structure (all team members working remotely from home) our day to day work is not overly affected by the current pandemic, so you're going to have to put up with a largely Business As Usual approach from the team. That said we are appealing for financial help since we're currently unable to run in-person fundraising, groups or training. If you can donate, please do.

Given that COVID-19 is so new, there is little clinically evidenced data available for people with particular illnesses. As patients ourselves we know how unsettling not having answers can be, but the science is evolving rapidly. As usual, we would strongly suggest that anyone claiming they have all the answers should be treated with extreme caution.

This page is updated regularly. Please click through for National Guidance applying specifically to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

July 2021

There was a lengthy update here, eaten by intermittent internet along with several earlier additions, but in short, England has lifted almost all restrictions. Some people are relieved, others not unreasonably, frightened. It's very important that we take time to figure out what our boundaries are and explore how to communicate them to the friends, family and strangers that will be in our lives again over the coming year. Be gentle with yourselves as you discover what you are, and are not comfortable with and extend that grace to others who may also be struggling to work out the same issues. 

The predominant Coronavirus-19 variant in the UK at the moment is the Delta variant. We do not recommend it, even twice vaccinated it was distinctly unpleasant and while restrictions have been lifted, maintaining handwashing regimes and wearing masks as appropriate remains crucial to keeping infection rates down. The Delta variant doesn't resemble the three symptoms everyone is looking for (dry persistent cough, fever and loss of taste/smell). From Manchester City Council comes this far more accurate representation of Delta's presentation. 

If you feel unwell, please get tested, vaccination doesn't prevent you from catching or transmitting the virus, but it does reduce the severity of your symptoms and the likelihood of hospitalisation. It can still make you, or people around you very sick and/or leave you with permanent new, or aggravated symptoms, particularly if there are underlying conditions. Please, take care of yourselves and those around you, wash your hands and give people the space they need to adjust to their new circumstances.

Those who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and shielded for much of last year, remain vulnerable to this disease, the Govt guidance for this group (who are in some cases #StillShielding) is here. With ARMA's support, allied MSK patient organisations have updated the 'Making decisions about staying safe' document. 

February 2021

The UK is currently in Lockdown. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home

Additions to the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable category are being made, the NHS will inform patients by e-mail and by post if they now fall into the group being asked to shield. 

Separately, a risk stratification tool is being used to identify additional people whose underlying conditions/circumstances qualify them for vaccination prioritisation (group 6). Official vaccination information below. 

Please scroll down for more detailed information.

January 2021

What tier am I in? Enter a postcode for local information, or see a list of regional restrictions

General guidance on the Tier system

4/1/2020: Covid Alert Level raised to 5. Lockdown effective 00:01 GMT 06/01/2021 CEV to Shield

The UK is now in a National Lockdown and schools across England have been closed, providing in-person education only to the vulnerable children and those of keyworkers. Teachers, teaching assistants and other school staff are continuing to conduct the business of education and provide remote learning for children outside these categories and Early Years provision will continue. 

Please see the above links for restrictions in your area. Those people who've been advised that they are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable have been asked to return to Shielding

Shielding:

UK Govt Shielding Information:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

Wales Shielding information

https://gov.wales/written-statement-letter-those-who-are-clinically-extremely-vulnerable-previously-shielding

Shielding in Scotland: 

https://www.gov.scot/publications/covid-shielding/

Shielding in Northern Ireland

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-clinically-extremely-vulnerable-and-vulnerable-people

Vaccination information we have so far:

Vaccines approved in the UK so far are the Pfizer BioNTech, Oxford Astrozeneca, and Moderna vaccines. 

NHS information for the general public on vaccination:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/

BSR information on vaccination:

https://www.rheumatology.org.uk/practice-quality/covid-19-guidance

PoTSUK vaccination info (covers MCAS and allergies) 

https://www.potsuk.org/news/141

Scleroderma & Raynaud’s UK on vaccination

https://www.sruk.co.uk/find-support/coronavirus/your-questions-covid-19-vaccine/

Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists

https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/covid-19-vaccination-and-pregnancy/

4/1/2021 

Welcome back and happy new year. Good news (!) as vaccines begin to roll out we'll be reporting on emerging information relevant to our community.

December 2020

Am I at increased risk from Coronavirus? - describes the various at risk categories and outlines precautionary measures.

Christmas Bubble guidance, applies from 23rd-27th of December 2020

Shielding guidance for people in the CEV group from 2/12/2020

November 2020

Shielding Guidance for people in the CEV group during the November English Lockdown

October 2020

With restrictions now changing frequently according to the Local Covid Alert Level or 'tier' system, members are advised to use the NHS Covid19 App or gov.uk postcode checker to determine current and forthcoming restrictions in your area, or that of any area you are travelling to. The links also to the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland specific restrictions.

Our peer-support local groups are meeting virtually, where we have volunteers and have broadened their catchments accordingly. Please contact [email protected] to find out about your nearest, or to register interest in training to run one if there are currently no volunteers in your area. 

Guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable (those who were shielding until August) can be found here, with suggested precautions for each tier of the alert system, depending on your location. 

Our joint statement (with ARMA) on the importance of continued MSK community services as the NHS prepares for a 'second-wave' of Covid and seasonal flu patients co-signed by Professional and Patient organisations can be found here

If you are struggling with bereavement, please consider contacting CRUSE for help, they're very experienced and provide a compassionate shoulder. For practical tips on looking after your mental health during the pandemic, see this NHS guide to the basics.

The NHS Volunteers Service can arrange a check in and chat if you are feeling isolated, you can reach them on 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm). For information on how to access urgent mental health care for a friend or relative in crisis, please see this guide from Rethink Mental Illness 

August 2020Coronavirus: shielding advice for rejoining the world

With official UK Shielding Paused by Westminster, the prospect of returning to a very different world after weeks in isolation is stressful to everyone. Our Occupational Therapist, Jo has written the following piece on strategies to help ease that adjustment and any associated anxieties for those who've been getting out a little, but are apprehensive about there being so many more people around with easing of restrictions. The HMSA also sits in solidarity with those who are #StillShielding. Whatever your current circumstances there's room for everyone under our umbrella

International reporting.

First and foremost, the World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

EULAR: https://www.eular.org/eular_guidance_for_patients_covid19_outbreak.cfm

The Covid-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance are conducting a patient survey here

Of course, it's all very scary, we're not going to pretend it isn't, or suggest that everything is going to be just fine. Rather than issue a sweeping statement we've collated a number of credible resources we have found useful, and think others might find helpful - we will add to these as further responsible and accurate information is published.

UK Specific guidance.

UK.Gov info on social distancing: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing

NHS111 Online tool: https://111.nhs.uk/service/covid-19
Public Health England Covid-19 blog: https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/
Health Protection Scotland: https://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/a-to-z-of-topics/covid-19/
Cymru - Public Health Wales: https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/
NI Public Health Agency: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/

All NHS Apps and most social media apps now also link to the most recent local information. If you're unsure, just ask - we'll do our best to find an answer for you, though please note that your primary physician may be the only person able to advise more specifically. 

UK Benefits:

https://www.turn2us.org.uk/get-support/Benefits-and-Coronavirus

Exams and Grades:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/how-gcses-as-a-levels-will-be-awarded-in-summer-2020

Other organisations with helpful information:

Chartered Society of Physiotherapists: https://www.csp.org.uk/conditions/managing-pain-home

VersusArthritis: https://www.versusarthritis.org/news/2020/march/coronavirus-covid-19-what-is-it-and-where-to-go-for-information/

PoTSUK: https://www.potsuk.org/news/115

AnxietyUK:
https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/blog/health-and-other-forms-of-anxiety-and-coronavirus/
https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/blog/covid-19-and-anxiety-part2/

HDCT Specific advice:

This hard to come by as the disease is so new that there is little clinical evidence yet with which to determine risk, prevalence and outcomes, however a number of organisations have made the following available re particular conditions, we'll add more as we find them:

Osteogenesis imperfecta: 

https://oif.org/coronavirus2019/

19/3/2020 17:00 GMT https://mailchi.mp/oif/covid19meeting

Marfan Foundation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0EK7WONSRU&feature=youtu.be

https://www.marfan.org/about-us/news/2020/03/16/new-statement-regarding-covid-19-and-genetic-aortic-conditions-31620#.XnNIiqj7TDc

Marfan Trust:

https://www.marfantrust.org/news/marfan-trust-statement-on-covid-19

EDSUK: https://www.ehlers-danlos.org/news/eds-and-coronavirus-covid-19/

vEDS (Annabelle's Challenge): https://www.annabelleschallenge.org/covid-19

Charcot Marie Tooth: https://www.cmt.org.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/

Of course, having a hypermobility syndrome offers no protection against other illnesses so we've added the following resources for people with common conditions that we know increase their risk, again - we'll add more as and when reliable information becomes available:

AsthmaUK: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/coronavirus-covid-19/
DiabetesUK: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/coronavirus
CancerReasearchUK: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/coronavirus-and-cancer
Downs Syndrome: https://www.downs-syndrome.org.uk/news/corornavirus-information-resources/

There are also some fabulous initiatives to help people who are self-isolating, anxious, affected by the unavailability of carers and so on. We've linked to some of those here, and again will continue to add any new ones that could be helpful.

#ViralKindness spreadsheet (googledocs) We cannot verify these external organisations as DBS checked etc. Please take sensible precautions when interacting with people online and protect your personal safety as a priority. Local support groups are springing up on Facebook, Next Door, and on other social media platforms with the capacity for groups. 

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/18P898HWbdR5ouW61sAxW_iBl3yiZlgJu0nSmepn6NwM/htmlview?sle=true#gid=1451634215

Our social media, helpline and general enquiries teams have access only to this information and that which is to be found on reputable news/healthcare websites. We're not able to advise further on individual cases, but can reassure and signpost, so if you're frightened, please do get in touch. If you're one of those who aren't worried, that's great - please look out for your friends family and neighbours who may not be so secure. :)