Government announces updated advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people, but with little practical support
Tuesday 13 October 2020
Clinically extremely vulnerable people in England have received new government guidance to help reduce their risk from coronavirus, while retaining as much normality as possible.
The latest guidance is tied into the new Local Covid Alert Levels framework, which means those at the highest risk of serious illness from the virus will receive specific advice depending on the alert level in their local area, as coronavirus rates continue to rise.
The Government's advice for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable includes:
- for Local Covid Alert Level – MEDIUM: strictly observe social distancing, meet others outside where possible, limit unnecessary journeys on public transport and work from home where possible, but you can still go to work and children should still attend school. This is on top of restrictions for everyone to only meet in groups of up to six people
- for Local Covid Alert Level – HIGH: reduce the number of different people met outside, avoid travel except for essential journeys, work from home where possible and reduce the number of shopping trips made or go at quieter times of the day. You can still go to work if you cannot work from home because all workplaces should be covid secure, and children should still attend school. This is on top of restrictions for everyone to not meet other households indoors, unless part of a support bubble, and to only meet in groups of up to six people outdoors
- for Local Covid Alert Level – VERY HIGH: work from home, in general stay at home as much as possible, and avoid all but essential travel. You should also significantly reduce shopping trips, and if possible use online delivery or ask people in your household, support bubble or volunteers to collect food and medicines. People in these areas are encouraged to still go outside for exercise, and can still go to school and to work if they cannot work from home. We recognise that a small number of individuals may require additional support to follow the guidance at this alert level, and they are advised to contact their local authority if they need assistance
Shielding is not currently advised, even for those in very high risk areas, though this will be kept under review.
Our Chief Executive Genevieve Edwards, says: "The Government has said shielding won't automatically be triggered by a change to the alert level, and we’re really concerned about this. More than 268,000 people in the UK are living with bowel cancer, and we know that many continued to shield even when the guidance changed in the summer.
"Without official shielding advice in place, some of the country's most vulnerable people will be left without packages of support they desperately need. We want to see concrete measures of financial and practical assistance put in place, so even more people aren’t forced to choose between their health and their livelihoods."
Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Dr Jenny Harries said: "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.
"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."
You should continue to seek support from the NHS for your existing health conditions. If you need to go to hospital for a routine appointment, the NHS has measures in place to make sure it is safe for you to do so.