Ataxia UK Guidance updated on 18 March 2020

A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions.

The NHS is advising that everyone begin taking social distancing measures. This is particularly important for people who:

  • are 70 or over
  • have a long-term condition (this includes anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year as an adult on medical grounds, and chronic neurological conditions such as progressive ataxias)
  • are pregnant
  • have a weakened immune system.

See here for more detail.


Social distancing involves:

Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds.

Always wash your hands when you get home or into work.

Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.

Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.

Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus.

Only travel on public transport if you need to.

Work from home, if you can.

Avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas.

Avoid events with large groups of people.

Use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services.

Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Do not have visitors to your home, including friends and family.


The full NHS England advice can be found here, including information on what to do if you or someone in your household develops symptoms. More advice can be found on the World Health Organisation website.

In the preparation of this guidance we have consulted both of the lead neurologists at the London UCL/UCLH and Sheffield Ataxia Centres. We are monitoring the situation and will update our guidance accordingly.

In line with this advice, Ataxia UK has cancelled the Scottish Conference in June, and has advised support groups not to meet in person at this time and to support each other virtually where possible.

We are also looking at providing regular updates, extending our Helpline opening hours and hosting webinars where our expert neurologists can answer people’s questions. Keep your eyes on our social media, Facebook, website and HealthUnlocked, where we will be advertising the times of the webinars.

We understand this is a difficult time for everyone, and Ataxia UK will continue to support the ataxia community as best we can. Government advice is changing all the time, so check this website for the most up-to-date information.