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COVID-19 (coronavirus) and diabetes

COVID-19 and diabetes

As we are all deeply aware of COVID-19, the pandemic facing the global community, Diabetes Canada is committed to sharing accurate and up-to-date information and credible resources. People living with diabetes and caregivers are especially vulnerable in this difficult and challenging time and Diabetes Canada is here to continue to offer support.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

People living with diabetes, especially those with poor glycemic control have an increased risk for some infections. Coronavirus (COVID-19) results in a respiratory infection that causes patients to develop mild to severe symptoms including a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19.

How can I prevent infection?

Public health agencies in Canada and world-wide have described actions that can help prevent the spread of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses.

Take these steps to reduce exposure to the virus and protect your health:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water
  • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve; when using tissues, immediately dispose of them into the garbage as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Regularly clean commonly used surfaces and devices you touch or handle.
  • Try to avoid contact with people who are showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing
  • Check national travel advice before planning or taking trips
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health-care provider
  • If you have a scheduled visit with your health-care provider, contact them via phone/or portal first to see what other options you may have (many clinics have increased their use of telemedicine) as visiting a clinic can increase your risk of being exposed to the virus. Follow the advice of your health-care provider

The public health authorities are emphasizing that if you think you might be sick, stay home from work or school. 

I have diabetes and I think I may be infected. What do I do?

COVID-19 can cause more severe symptoms and complications in some people living with diabetes, as well as in older people, and those with other chronic health conditions.

If you have diabetes and you have symptoms such as a cough, high temperature and feeling short of breath, you need to continue taking your medication and contact your primary care physician or local Public Health Authority. For those who routinely monitor their blood glucose, on the advice of their clinical team, they should continue to do this more often.

If you have diabetes and you become unwell for any reason, it is important that you practice sick day management, which can include: 

  • Maintaining open communication with your primary care provider and diabetes care team. They are an excellent resource if you have questions or concerns about your personal health management
  • Following the advice of your diabetes care team regarding medication usage, if you are feeling unwell
  • Being aware of the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, as effective blood glucose management can become a challenge when sick
  • Staying hydrated and having unsweetened drinks on hand; and practicing eating smaller portions but more often

The risk of death from coronavirus is quite low, and most people with COVID-19 will have a comparatively mild illness. Should you have further questions, we recommend contacting your primary care physician or local public health authority.

An update to our diabetes community

As we face these unprecedented and uncertain times, we want you to know that Diabetes Canada is keeping a close eye on the updates from leading public health authorities regarding COVID-19.

Collaboration to prevent diabetes supply disruption during COVID-19

During times of rapid change, it is common for insulin requirements to vary. Safeguarding diabetes drug supply & individual patient health is critical. Check out our latest information on how we can work together to prevent diabetes supply disruption.

COVID-19 and diabetes FAQ

Click here for our most frequently asked questions about Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Contact us for support

We can answer your questions about COVID-19 and diabetes symptoms, risks and other concerns.


COVID-19 infographics

We all have a role to play in protecting ourselves and others. Share one or all of our infographics on your social networks and tag @diabetescanada.

How we help

During this difficult time Diabetes Canada continues to support those living with diabetes and the people who care for them while we work to find a cure. If you are able, your support can make a difference now and in the coming months.

We need your help

Helpful external resources

Diabetes Canada is following the Public Health Agency recommendations for COVID-19 and monitoring their ongoing information, as updates become available.

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