Covid-19: What is shielding?

People at highest risk of coronavirus are to be asked to “take themselves out of society” for three months.

Here are your questions answered on the latest measure from the Government in the battle against Covid-19.

– What is shielding?

Some people with certain health conditions are being instructed to remove themselves from society, or “shield” themselves, to prevent them getting the virus.

People will be “strongly advised” to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact.

They should not go out for shopping, leisure or travel and, when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact.

– Who should be shielded?

Clinically vulnerable people, including children, with certain conditions.

These people will be contacted in coming days with a letter instructing them on how they can protect themselves, which will be followed by a text and phone call.

– How many people will need to be shielded?

The NHS has identified 1.5 million people in England who face the highest risk from the virus.

– How long do they need to be shielded for?

People will be instructed to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.

– Who counts as “clinically vulnerable” and will be asked to shield themselves?

Here is the list of people from the Government:

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 six 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).

5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.

6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

– What if I live with someone who needs to shield themselves?

People who live with someone with one of these conditions have not been instructed to shield themselves, but should “stringently” follow social distancing measures.

Advice has been issued on interaction within a home including minimising non-essential contact and on bed-sharing.

– If I’m one of the vulnerable, how will I get my supplies?

It is hoped that family, friends and neighbours will support people. Where this is not possible, officials have said that “hubs” are being developed around the country to ensure that people are getting medicines and food through parcels left on their doorstep.

The hubs will consist of local pharmacists, councils and food distributors and emergency services. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick added that members of the Armed Forces are “supporting this effort”.

From Tuesday March 24, those in desperate need can visit gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable register for support.

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