Confusion over CPR during COVID is delaying life-saving treatment

The UK Resuscitation Council has set out how to do CPR with reduced risk to the bystander.

Matt Bodell
19 October 2020

A third of adults incorrectly believe CPR should only be carried out by professionals with PPE.

Confusion over cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) during COVID-19 is delaying life-saving treatment, warn charities.


New research has revealed that a third of UK adults don’t know if, during the COVID-19 pandemic, CPR should only be carried out by professionals wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).

The charities behind Restart a Heart Day are now urging the public to act immediately to perform CPR when someone has collapsed and stopped breathing.

With 80% of out of hospital sudden cardiac arrests occurring in the home and with a person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest reducing by 10% for every minute without CPR and defibrillation, the message clear – good, prompt CPR can have a huge impact on patient outcomes.

Resuscitation Council UK has set out how to do CPR with reduced risk to the bystander.


The key changes during COVID are to loosely laying a face covering, such as a mask, cloth, towel or item of clothing, over the mouth and nose of the person who has collapsed and to do hands-only CPR (no mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths).

Jason Carlyon, Senior Engagement Lead (Community) for Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said: “We are concerned that an increasing number of our cardiac arrest patients are not surviving because bystanders are reluctant to step in and help due to COVID-19.

“What happens in the first few minutes before our arrival on scene is critical and there are measures people can take to minimise the risks such as placing a cloth loosely over the patient’s mouth while doing hands-only CPR.

“Without bystander CPR, our chances of success are much reduced so please take a few moments to learn this vital skill.”


CPR skills can be learned on and around 16 October through the FREE digital resources available at and by participating in digital training events across the country.

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