1.5 million to be sent ‘shielding’ letters amid Coronavirus outbreak

Two schools hit by Covid-19

1.5 million to be sent ‘shielding’ letters amid Coronavirus outbreak

It has been announced that the government are to send 1.5 million of the most vulnerable people in England ‘shielding’ letters amid the Coronavirus outbreak. The letters will urge them to self-isolate for an extended period amid warnings that the coronavirus outbreak is “accelerating”.

Health officials have urged those considered most at risk from the disease because of their health conditions to begin “shielding” themselves by staying at home and taking extra precautions. ‘Shielding’ is a practice which protects extremely vulnerable people from coming into contact with coronavirus. It is designed to ensure that those who are already clinically vulnerable minimise all interaction between those who might be carriers.

Letters are expected to be sent this week, and will advise people to remain at home for a minimum of 12 weeks.

Those considered to be extremely vulnerable include anybody who:

  • Is a solid organ transplant recipient.
  • Has any type of cancer, or is undergoing active chemotherapy or any other type of treatment, such as immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments.
  • Is having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors.
  • Has had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs.
  • Has a severe respiratory condition, including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
  • Has a rare disease or inborn error of metabolism that significantly increases the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
  • Is on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
    Is pregnant and has a significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

Those who are shielding are strongly advised to avoid contact with anyone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus. These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.

It is also stated that if you fall within any of the above categories, you should not leave your house, attend any gatherings, or receive visitors.

If you care for but don’t actually live with someone who is extremely vulnerable you should still stringently follow the existing guidance on social distancing.

In the guidance, the government says:

“Shielding is for your personal protection, it is your choice to decide whether to follow the measures we advise. Individuals who have been given a prognosis of less than six months to live, and some others in special circumstances, could decide not to undertake shielding. This will be a deeply personal decision. We advise calling your GP or specialist to discuss this.”

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