AROUND two million at-risk Brits have been told to shield once again, as the country enters a third national lockdown.
Those deemed clinically extremely vulnerable will be advised to stay at home at all times – unless they need to attend a medical appointment.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
People in the clinically extremely vulnerable group are most at risk from the coronavirus Credit: Getty – Contributor
Speaking at the Downing Street briefing this evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said those affected will receive a letter outlining what it means for them.
It means the group, who include those with chronic health conditions, should only leave home for exercise and health appointments, and should not work unless they can do so from home.
They are also advised to avoid any busy public places including shops and pharmacies.
People in the clinically extremely vulnerable group are the most at risk in society from dying or developing serious issues if they catch Covid-19.
Speaking tonight the Prime Minister said: “Our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic.
“In England alone, the number of Covid patients in hospital has increased by nearly a third in the last week to almost 27,000 and that number is 40 per cent higher than the first peak in April.
“The number of deaths is up by 20 per cent over the last week and will sadly rise further.
“It’s clear we need to do more together to bring the new variant under control while our vaccine are rolled out.
“In England we must therefore go into a national lockdown.”
Who should shield?
People in the clinically extremely vulnerable group include cancer patients, people with rare diseases and pregnant women with significant heart disease.
During the first national coronavirus lockdown in March millions of vulnerable Brits were told to stay inside.
As part of the second lockdown in November, restrictions on the vulnerable group were relaxed slightly – allowing the vulnerable to go outside for exercise.
These are the same restrictions for people who are in Tier 4 areas. In Tier 4 areas all non-essential shops are closed, as well as hospitality venues gyms.
Definition of clinically extremely vulnerable groups
People who are defined as clinically extremely vulnerable are at very high risk of severe illness from Covid-19.
There are two ways you may be identified as clinically extremely vulnerable:
- You have one or more of the conditions listed below
- Your hospital clinician or GP has added you to the shielded patients list because, based on their clinical judgement, they deem you to be at higher risk of serious illness if you catch the virus
Adults with the following conditions are automatically deemed clinically extremely vulnerable:
- solid organ transplant recipients
- those with specific cancers:
- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
- people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
- 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 that 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
- those with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- those with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell disease)
- those on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
- adults with Down’s syndrome
- adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (stage 5)
- women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
- other people who have also been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on clinical judgement and an assessment of their needs. GPs and hospital clinicians have been provided with guidance to support these decisions
In terms of children who are in this group, if a GP has advised that a child is still a shielded patient then children should not attend school during term time.
Children who live with a parent or guardian who is in this group should still attend school.
In terms of travel, those who are shielding should still go to appointments unless advised not to do so by a doctor or healthcare practitioner.
They are also advised to not go to shops or pharmacies and to use the support in place so they can stay at home.
First in line
Many shielding Brits were given hope earlier this month as the coronavirus vaccine programme started in the UK.
The over 80s and care workers were first in line for the jab.
The priority list then runs in order of age, and takes into consideration those with underlying health issues.
Prof Jonathan Van-Tam previously said: “The JCVI priority list phase one, which takes us down to people 50 years of age and over and under 50 if you’re in an at-risk group, taken together it’s not an accident that they take out – with a very effective vaccine and high uptake – 99 per cent of Covid-related mortality, deaths.