Coeliac disease and coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs
We know there are lots of concerns and queries about coronavirus and coeliac disease and we have answered as many as we can below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do to stay well?
The latest government advice is that we should all stay at home and only go outside when it is essential. This applies to everyone, whether or not you have coeliac disease. The NHS website and Government website are being updated on a regular basis and are the best place to go to for the latest information and guidance. Follow their advice to try and keep yourself safe.
As always, make sure you follow a strict gluten free diet, which is the treatment for coeliac disease.
I can’t find any gluten free products in my local supermarket, including essentials like gluten free pasta and flour. What can I do?
We know the current situation is really difficult and we’re talking to our contacts to see what we can do to help. We advise you to:
- ask your store manager what time they receive their gluten free deliveries and go to the store then
- try local convenience stores as we are hearing anecdotally that these are better stocked so try there
- try mail order companies to see if you can get food delivered
- try local suppliers who might be better stocked in their produce
If you're venturing out, please make sure you follow Government guidance to avoid risk.
If there is no gluten free food available at the supermarket, will it become available on prescription?
Gluten free staple foods are available on prescription in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Gluten free bread and flour mixes are available in some areas in England so check availability here. In areas of England where access to gluten free food on prescription has been restricted, it is unlikely that local policies will be reviewed at this present time.
What is Coeliac UK doing to help people manage their gluten free diet during the coronavirus outbreak?
We are working with our Health Advisory Council to make sure we’re giving you the best advice in line with Government guidance. We will keep updating you through our website and social media with the latest news that affects our community. We are talking to food manufacturers and retailers about the availability of gluten free food for people with coeliac disease. We also plan to make our gluten free recipes available to non members and create more recipes and tips for living on store cupboard meals etc. We’re doing what we can but if you can think of anything that would help you, please let us know.
How can I find out if the guidance on coeliac disease and coronavirus changes?
Keep an eye on our website and the government updates too. We will do our best to keep you updated with this evolving situation.
Should people with coeliac disease be following guidance on shielding?
The government has provided advice on shielding for people defined as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. People with coeliac disease (including those who have problems with their spleen) who have no other health conditions do not fall into this category. If you fall into this category you should receive a letter by Sunday 29 March 2020. The Government website has more information on shielding.
Are people with coeliac disease no longer considered to be in the “high risk” group?
Government advice initially distinguished between the general population and those considered at high risk due to other underlying health conditions. The high risk group includes people with problems with their spleen (which potentially may affect 30% of people with coeliac disease) who were advised to be particularly stringent with following social distancing advice.
The government advice has since been updated and guidance on social distancing now applies to the general population as well as those in the high risk group. We should all stay at home and only go outside when it is essential and therefore the advice for the high risk groups and general population is aligned. In addition to this, the government has produced further guidance for patients who are considered to be extremely vulnerable and who are being advised to follow shielding advice. People with problems with their spleen are not considered to be within the “extremely vulnerable” group, they remain in the “high risk” group but the advice for this group is currently aligned with that for the general population.
As this is a fluid and fast moving situation we will continue to review and update our advice in line with advice from the government working with our health advisors.
I have received a text/letter advising me that I am in the vulnerable group and need to shield but I’m not sure this applies to me.
The government has provided advice on shielding for people defined as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. People with coeliac disease (including those who have problems with their spleen) who have no other health conditions do not fall into this category. If you think you have been sent information on shielding in error, the guidance from the NHS is to check the list of conditions where shielding is recommended. If you are confident that this does not apply then the NHS advice is to please ignore the communication. If you still have concerns then please discuss your own circumstances with your GP. More information from the NHS on this issue is available at https://digital.nhs.uk/news-and-events/news/statement-on-coronavirus-communications
To find out more on shielding, head over to the government website.