Risk groups

Risk groups for serious coronavirus infection

Based on current knowledge, people over the age of 70 are more susceptible to severe coronavirus infection than others.

In addition, the risk of serious coronavirus infection may be increased, especially in the elderly, by diseases that significantly weaken lung or heart function or the body’s resistance.

The risk of coronavirus infection may increase in the elderly due to the following:

  • Severe heart disease
  • Poorly controlled lung disease
  • Diabetes with related organ damage
  • Chronic liver or kidney deficiency
  • A disease that weakens the immune system, such as leukaemia or lymphoma in active chemotherapy (not maintenance therapy)
  • Medication that severely weakens the immune system (e.g. high-dose cortisone therapy)

If necessary, the physician will assess whether the underlying illness is so severe that the person is at risk of a serious coronavirus infection. The physician will also decide whether the medication should be changed.

Other factors which generally impair lung function and may increase the risk of coronavirus infection to health include severe obesity (body mass index over 40) and daily smoking (including e-cigarettes).

Symptoms requiring immediate treatment in at-risk groups

Those at risk should be less hesitant to contact a health centre or physician than others.

If you belong to a risk group, call the Medical Helpline promptly (tel. 116 117) if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever rises rapidly (38 °C or above).
  • The disease is accompanied by sore throat and/or cough.

Instructions for risk groups regarding the coronavirus

Always follow the general instructions to minimise the risk of infection. You can also follow the instructions below to reduce the risk of infection.

  • Stay in touch with others by phone, for example, but avoid close contact.
  • Avoid shopping or taking care of other essential errands during busy times. Also ensure good hand hygiene in public places and keep a safety distance of at least 1.5 metres from others. Ask for assistance if necessary.
  • If a safety distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained, it is recommended to wear a face mask.
  • Take care of any long-term illness according to the instructions from a nurse or physician. Keep appointments for regular control visits.
  • If you have symptoms of respiratory infection, avoid contact with other people and contact your physician.