On Monday 16th March the UK government announced a package of measures, advising those who are or may be at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.
The group that has been identified to as those who will benefit most from social distancing are those who are/ have:
- • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (i.e. anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
- • chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- • chronic kidney disease
- • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- • diabetes
- • problems with their spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- • a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- • being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)
- • those who are pregnant
This wider group, who broadly speaking comprise the criteria of adults eligible for an annual flu vaccine, will not be proactively contacted but have instead been asked to take steps to reduce their social interactions in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.
Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.
It is intended for use in situations where the extremely vulnerable person is living in their own home, with or without additional support. This includes the extremely clinically vulnerable people living in long-term care facilities, either for the elderly or persons with special needs.
NHS England is directly contacting people with these conditions to provide further advice. GP practices are sending a letter to any patients that may not have been identified by NHS England.
The letter strongly advises those at risk to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks from the day they receive their letter. Please note that this period of time could change.
The patients identified as those who should shield are as follows:
1.Solid organ transplant recipients
2. People with specific cancers
- • People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
- • People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who • are at any stage of treatment
- • People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- • People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors.
- • People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs.
3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD
4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell disease)
5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
6. People who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
A copy of the shielding letter can be viewed here.
A link to the Governments website regarding shielding can be accessed here.
A link to how to register for help with shopping or medicines if you are shielding can be accessed here.