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What does it mean? Coronavirus glossary

Last updated: Wednesday 21 October 2020

Lots of words and phrases are being used at the moment in relation to coronavirus. We wanted to break them down to explain what they mean, who they apply to and what the differences between them are.

Self-isolation

What does it mean?
Avoiding contact with other people and not leaving the house for any reason if you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus.

Who does it include?
People with symptoms, and people living with someone who has symptoms.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus you must stay at home for 10 days from when your symptoms started. You should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19. Don’t go to your GP, pharmacy or hospital.

If you live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus, you must stay at home for 14 days, even if you feel well.

Shielding

What does it mean?
Avoiding face-to-face contact with other people and not leaving the house for any reason if you are at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You should also strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus.

Who does it include?
People who have been contacted individually and advised by the Government to shield. These people are considered clinically extremely vulnerable and are at a very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You can check government advice for your area here.

Social distancing

What does it mean?
Reducing social interaction with other people by trying to keep at least two metres away from people you do not live with. Where you can’t stay two metres apart, you should stay more than one metre away and take extra precautions to stay safe. This could mean wearing a face covering or moving outdoors where there is more space. You should also avoid physical contact, crowded areas with lots of people and touching things that other people have touched. In England when seeing family and friends, you should meet in groups of six or less.

Who does it include?
Everyone, especially vulnerable people or people living with vulnerable and extremely vulnerable people. 

Circuit break or firebreak

What does it mean?
A circuit break is a short, set period of around two to three weeks where there are tighter restrictions in place. It's designed to slow down or stop the number of coronavirus cases rising. In Wales this has been called a firebreak.

Who does it include?
Northern Ireland are introducing a circuit break on Friday 16 October. For more information visit the Northern Ireland Government website.

Wales have introduced a firebreak lockdown that will be in place from 6pm on Friday 23 October until the start of Monday 9 November 2020.

Support bubble

What does it mean?
A support bubble is a close support network between a household with only one adult in the home and another household of any size. This means that the people in the support bubble can have close contact with each other, as if they lived in the same house.

Who does it include?
You can form a support bubble if:

  • you live by yourself (even if carers visit you to provide support)
  • you’re a single parent living with children who were under the age of 18 on 12 June 2020
  • you live with other people and want to form a support bubble with one single-adult household. The person in the single-adult household can’t be in a support bubble with anyone else.
  • you share custody of your child with someone you don’t live with. In these cases, you can form a support bubble with a household other than the one that includes your child’s other parent.

For more information about support bubbles, follow government guidance

Extended household

What does it mean?
An extended household is a term used in Scotland to describe people who live in different places but form a close support network. Everyone in the extended household will be able to act, and will be treated, as if they live in one household – meaning they can spend time together inside each other’s homes and do not need to stay at least two metres apart.

Who does it include?
You can form an extended household if:

  • you're an adult and live alone
  • all the others in your household are under 18
  • you're a member of a household (of any size) which forms an extended household with an adult who lives alone or with members who are under 18.

For more information about extended households, follow Scottish government advice

Clinically extremely vulnerable

What does it mean?
People at a very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. Extremely vulnerable people should follow government guidance and take additional protective measures. Shielding has been paused for people who are extremely vulnerable, unless they have been contacted individually by the Government and advised to shield. You can check government advice for your area here.

Who does it include?
Extremely vulnerable people include:

  • people with cancer who are having chemotherapy
  • people who are having radical radiotherapy for lung cancer. This includes people with bowel cancer whose cancer has spread to the lung
  • people receiving immunotherapy treatments
  • people receiving other targeted treatments which can affect their immune system.

For the full list, please refer to government guidance on shielding

Vulnerable

What does it mean?
People at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. Vulnerable people should follow government guidance which advises that:

  • you can go outside as much as you like, but to try and keep social interactions low
  • you can go to businesses such as the shops and pubs but to keep two metres away from others where possible
  • you should wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual.

Who does it include?
Vulnerable people include people with cancer who are not in one of the groups outlined above as ‘extremely vulnerable’. They also include anyone over the age of 70 and people with certain underlying health conditions.

For the full list, please refer to government guidance on social distancing.

 

For more information, please refer to the wider government guidance on:

 

See all our Coronavirus advice and guidance

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