Some people have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they are infected with the novel coronavirus. This is because the body’s natural defences are often lower in older people and in people who already have a disease.

Not all the information on our website has been updated according to the press conference on 27 May. We will update our information as soon as possible.

What are the risk groups for the novel coronavirus?

People who belong to a risk group are people who have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they are infected with the novel coronavirus. The risk groups are: 

  • People aged 70 years and older
  • Adults (over 18 years old) with one of these underlying health conditions:
    • People with chronic respiratory or pulmonary problems that are so severe that they are being treated by a lung specialist.
    • Chronic heart patients, whose heart problems are so severe that they are being treated by a cardiologist.
    • People with diabetes that is not fully controlled and/or involves complications.
    • People with kidney disease who need dialysis or are waiting for a kidney transplant.
    • People who are less resistant to infection because they are taking medication for an autoimmune disease, and people who have had an organ transplant or stem cell transplant. People who do not have a spleen, or who have a non-functioning spleen, and people who have a blood disease. People who are less resistant to infection because they are taking medication that weakens the immune system. Cancer patients during chemotherapy and/or radiation, or within 3 months after receiving such treatment. People with severe immune disorders for which they require treatment from a doctor.
    • People with an HIV infection who are not (or not yet) being treated by a doctor, or with an HIV infection with a CD4 cluster of differentiation 4 below 200/mm2.
    • People with serious liver disease.
    • People with morbid obesity (BMI Body Mass Index  > 40).

Minimising the risk of infection

If you are in a risk group, you should stay at home as much as possible. Only go outside when necessary. If you do have to go outside, follow the measures carefully. Keep 1.5 meters distance from others and ensure good hygiene measures. Wash your hands often with soap and water and avoid touching your nose or mouth with your hands. The advice is not to have any visitors. Obviously, it is nice to interact with others. If you do have visitors, limit visitors to 1 or 2 designated individuals as much as possible. Ask them to follow the measures very carefully as well. 


  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • In any case, you should stay home and recuperate if you have cold symptoms, fever and/or shortness of breath. Cold symptoms could include: a nasal cold, runny nose, sore throat, mild cough or elevated temperature.
  • Work from home. If that is not possible, consult your company doctor.
  • Do not do any shopping yourself and do not receive any visitors. Ask someone else to do your shopping, or have your groceries delivered. For example, arrange for someone else to walk your dog. 
  • Do not invite people to visit you. An exception is made for older people living independently who were already vulnerable or not fully self-reliant before the COVID-19 pandemic, and have a very limited network. In order to avoid social isolation in the current circumstances, one or two designated individuals may continue to visit these people on a semi-regular basis. Even during these visits, the general measures still apply, including keeping 1.5 metres from others and maintaining good hygiene measures. If these designated visitor(s) develop symptoms that could indicate COVID-19, such as a nasal cold, a fever and/or shortness of breath, they should stay home, as is the case for everyone in the Netherlands.

When should you call the doctor?

Call your GP if your symptoms grow worse, or if you require medical assistance. For example, call the doctor if you develop a high fever or have difficulty breathing. Do not go to your GP or visit the hospital; instead, call your GP.

People sharing a household with vulnerable people

If you are sharing a household with someone who is vulnerable due to underlying health conditions, it is important that you follow the measures as closely as possible to prevent a COVID-19 infection.

Stay home as much as possible

  • Limit visitors to your home whenever possible (maximum of 3 visitors)
  • Keep 1.5 meters distance from each other

Only go outside if it is really necessary

  • For work, if you are unable to work from home, for grocery shopping, for fresh air, or to do an errand for someone else.

If you do go outside, keep at least 1.5 meters distance from others

  • Except for family members, shared households and children up to 12 years old

Ensure good hygiene measures:

Wash your hands 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, and then dry your hands thoroughly
  • Wash your hands before you leave home, when you return home, after blowing your nose – and, as always, before eating and after going to the toilet
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow
  • Use paper tissues to blow your nose and throw them away immediately
  • Wash your hands afterwards 
  • Do not shake hands

For vulnerable elderly people who are in a nursing home or care home, more information is available on the website of the national government. 

Children in a risk group

Children with underlying medical problems do not appear to have a greater risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 than healthy children, with the possible exception of children with serious obesity and/or diabetes. When in doubt whether your child can go to school, childcare or after-school care, please consult your child’s doctor or treating physician and the school management. If a family member is in a risk group and under specialist treatment, consult with the doctor and the school management as to whether the child can go to school.

About testing 

Patients from vulnerable groups can be tested if that is important for their treatment or care. This can be done by the GP or treating physician. 

Frequently Asked Questions Risk Groups and COVID-19

I have asthma/allergies. Does that mean that I am more susceptible to COVID-19?

No. Based on current knowledge, it appears that asthma or allergy patients are not a higher risk for COVID-19. This is the case if you take your medication according to the instructions.

Do people who have had a flu shot have any advantage or disadvantage for the novel coronavirus?

The flu shot offers protection against flu (influenza). It does not protect against other viruses, such as the novel coronavirus. There is no evidence that people who have had the flu shot are more susceptible to the novel coronavirus. Having a flu shot does not weaken your immune system. Similarly, there is no evidence that the flu shot itself increases the risk of catching COVID-19. In addition, a flu shot does not affect how severe the symptoms are if you get sick.