People with underlying health conditions including severe asthma and specific cancers are being urged to stay at home "at all times" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Children and adults already suffering from serious health conditions face the highest risk of needing hospital treatment for Covid-19, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
The Government has strongly advised people who fall into the high-risk categories to exercise "shielding" measures by staying at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks.
Those at risk will be contacted by NHS England via letter and should implement the measures from the day they receive it, the DHSC said.
People who are most at risk include:
– Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer, as well as those with cancers of the blood or bone marrow who are at any stage of their treatment.
– People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer.
– Those undergoing targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors.
– People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the past six months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs.
– Those with respiratory conditions including severe asthma, severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis.
– Pregnant women who have significant heart disease.
The DHSC said people with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase infection are also classed as high-risk.
Shielding is a measure to protect people who are extremely vulnerable to the disease by minimising all contact with others, the DHSC said.
The measures advise people not to leave their home, attend any gatherings, or go out for shopping.
When arranging food or medication deliveries, items should be left at the door to minimise contact, the DHSC said.
People living with others in the same house are advised to keep two metres away from each other, use separate bathrooms where possible, and separate towels.
Those affected should instead keep in contact with people using their phones, internet and social media.