THOUSANDS of people in Swindon are in danger of becoming severely ill with coronavirus.

Those living with diabetes face a significantly higher risk of dying with Covid-19, with new NHS research revealing a third of deaths in England are associated with the condition.

More than 14,000 people in Swindon have diabetes, meaning it is more prevalent here than any other town in the South West. And that number could be set to soar – almost 5,000 more without the condition are known to have high blood sugar levels.

The study showed people living with type 1 diabetes are at three-and-a-half times the risk of dying in hospital with the virus and those with type 2 are at double the risk, when compared to people without it.

But it found by far the strongest risk factor for dying with Covid-19 is age.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity and lead author of the study, said: “This research shows the extent of the risk of coronavirus for people with diabetes and the different risks for those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

“Importantly, it also shows that higher blood glucose levels and obesity further increase the risk in both types of diabetes.

“This can be worrying news but we would like to reassure people that the NHS is here for anyone with concerns about diabetes – and has put extra measures in place to help people and keep them safe, including online sites to support people to care for themselves, digital consultations, and a dedicated new helpline for advice and support for people treated with insulin.”

Diabetics are not in the 'clinically extremely vulnerable' shielding group.Instead, they are in the 'clinically vulnerable' group, which means they should follow stringent social distancing advice.

Diabetes UK director of policy Bridget Turner said: “This new data sheds much-needed light on which groups of people with diabetes are more likely to experience poor outcomes if they catch coronavirus.

“It’s consistent with what we know about the impact of coronavirus on the general population; that poorer outcomes are very strongly linked to older age.

“The numbers of people with all types of diabetes dying in hospital from coronavirus under the age of 40 were incredibly small, suggesting the risk for younger people is considerably lower.

“It also shows that the risk of death for people with diabetes is higher than for people without the condition – with the risk for people with type 1 being higher than for those with type 2 – and that a history of higher blood sugar levels as well as obesity seem to be contributing factors.

“It’s very important to remember that the risk of dying from coronavirus – for people with and without diabetes – remains very low, and that as cases of coronavirus decline, the risk to everyone of catching the disease will reduce in turn.

“It’s also important to remember that the numbers of children and young people with type 1, and those under the age of 40 who have died from coronavirus are very small.

“We know people with diabetes will want to know what they can do to keep themselves safe. The most important thing anyone with diabetes can do is try their best to manage their condition carefully, keeping their blood sugar in range as much as possible.

“All people with diabetes should also follow stringent social distancing measures to reduce their chances of catching the virus altogether.”

NHS Digital data from February showed 4,840 people registered with a GP in the NHS Swindon CCG area last year had non-diabetic hyperglycaemia – the highest on record.

Those with NDH have high blood sugar levels, and are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

In Swindon, 5.1 per cent of those recorded as having non-diabetic hyperglycaemia were under 40

Last year the Adver reported 14,143 people in Swindon have diabetes – a percentage of 7.59. The UK average is 6.8 per cent.

The council's cabinet member for adults and heath Brian Ford said: “The number of people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes is on the increase nationally and a number of initiatives have been set up to combat it.

“In Swindon, we have signed up to the National Diabetes Prevention Programme and, since 2017, more than 3,000 people have been referred.

“On average, people who attend the nine-month programme lose 3.4kg.

“The programme offers free advice and support to bring about changes in people’s lifestyles including nutritional support and access to physical activity.

“All those enrolled on the programme are supported to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes and, at the same time, given the motivation and confidence to address a range of conditions associated with being overweight as well as advice on how to eat healthily and to move to a more active lifestyle.”

There were almost two millions diabetics in England last year.