Clinically extremely vulnerable people in England will receive new guidance to help them reduce their risk from coronavirus, tailored to where they live, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.
The guidance will be tied into the new local COVID alert levels framework, meaning those at the highest risk of serious illness from the virus will receive specific advice depending on the level of risk in their local area, as coronavirus rates continue to rise.
With many national measures now in place that apply to everyone – for example, the rule of 6 and mandatory face coverings – the clinically extremely vulnerable group is already helped by wider protection measures not previously in place when shielding was originally introduced in March.
‘Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a sharp increase in the prevalence of the virus across the country and we know those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are looking for practical advice on how they can carry on their lives while the virus remains in our communities,’ said Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Dr Jenny Harries.
‘The new system will provide clarity on how best those in this group can keep themselves as safe as possible depending on the rates of transmission in their local area. Whilst advisory, I would urge all those affected to follow the guidance wherever they can and to continue to access health services for their medical conditions. We will continue to monitor the evidence closely and fine-tune this approach to make sure everyone in this group is clear about the safest way to go about their daily lives, particularly over the coming winter months.’
The clinically extremely vulnerable group includes those with conditions affecting the immune system, certain cancers and organ transplant recipients among others. Those in these areas will also be updated if the decision is not to follow shielding advice. If shielding advice is reintroduced in their area, they will also be eligible for a support package – including food access support, medicines deliveries and any additional care or support required.
‘With coronavirus rates continuing to increase, now is the time to take action and ensure we protect the most vulnerable in our society,’ said Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.
‘Today’s announcement will mean every person most at risk from serious outcomes from the virus will have specific advice targeted to local levels, which they can follow to keep themselves as safe as possible, while ensuring they can also keep as much normality in their lives as possible.’