Early CPR can be the difference between life and death for a person in cardiac arrest.
It remains important to attempt CPR if someone at home or in a public setting
collapses and stops breathing or stops breathing normally (i.e. goes into cardiac arrest), while still keeping bystander rescuers as safe as possible.
The Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) COVID-19 related Guidance is based on the best available evidence and clinical advice and has sought to balance maximising the chances of survival with rescuer safety.
The risk of contracting COVID-19 increases when aerosol-generating procedures are performed. Chest compressions are internationally recognised as an aerosol-generating procedure by bodies such as the World Health Organisation, International Liaison Committee On Resuscitation, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, European Resuscitation Council and American Heart Association.
Our COVID-19 Guidance in relation to CPR and resuscitation in first aid and community settings is aimed at members of the public. Our Guidance is to place a cloth or towel over the mouth and nose of the person in cardiac arrest before starting CPR. Our Guidance also recommends doing compression only CPR. This means not giving rescue breaths (known as mouth-to-mouth). The important step of placing a cloth or towel over the mouth and nose of the person who has collapsed and is not breathing or not breathing normally before starting compression only CPR is designed to help reduce the risk of aerosol transmission when performing the chest compressions. The cloth or towel will not obstruct or block the person’s airway. It will not impact their chances of survival.
When an individual is in cardiac arrest, they will not be breathing, and without prompt CPR, the chances of survival significantly reduce. It is important to intervene and put the Chain of Survival (calling for help, performing CPR, and using a defibrillator) into motion as quickly as possible to give this person their best chance of survival.
Read the full RCUK advice on public CPR at a time of heightened risk of infection.