VULNERABLE people were advised to shield when the Government announced the third coronavirus lockdown in January 2021.
Those at risk of contracting a severe form of Covid-19 have been urged to take extra precautions.
Shielding advice for the most vulnerable was introduced again in January 2021[/caption]
Coronavirus specialist-nurse Gemma Walker, 47, hugs her Down’s Syndrome son George, aged 20, for the first time in four months[/caption]
When the first lockdown started in March 2020, millions of vulnerable people were asked to stay at home and avoid any close contact with others.
In July 2020, they were given the all-clear to meet up to six people outdoors while observing social distancing with those from different households.
Anyone who lived alone was allowed to form a “support bubble” with one other household, meaning they could spend time with each other inside their homes.
The shielding policy was paused in August 2020, but it was reintroduced – in the form of advice – in January 2021 when a third lockdown was announced.
Who is on the shielding list?
The shielding list of people considered vulnerable includes:
- solid organ transplant recipients
- people with cancer who are having chemo
- people with lung cancer having radical radiotherapy
- people with blood cancers – leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma – at any stage of treatment
- people having immunotherapy or other antibody treatments for cancer
- people having targeted cancer treatments that affect the immune system – protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors for example
- people who’ve had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months or who are taking immunosuppression drugs
- people with severe respiratory conditions like cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and COPD
- people with rare diseases and inborn errors of the metabolism that increase the risk of infections – SCID or homozygous sickle cell for example
- people on immunosuppression therapies that increase the risk of infection
- women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
Devolved administrations can decide who should be on the shielding list in each country.
In Northern Ireland, people on the shielding list have been told to be particularly careful in limiting social contacts with others.
People considered clinically vulnerable have been told to shield[/caption]
Do people have to shield?
Shielding is not compulsory, but it is advisable for people at risk of severe illness from Covid-19.
People on the shielding list have also been prioritised to get a coronavirus jab, which offers increased protection.
What are the shielding guidelines?
Clinically extremely vulnerable people are being advised to take extra precautions.
The shielding guidelines say clinically extremely vulnerable should stay at home at all times and keep contact with others to a minimum.
They are also advised to only go out when necessary – such as to exercise or attend a medical appointment.
The advice says vulnerable people should not leave their house to work and if they cannot work from home, they could get financial support such as Statutory Sick Pay or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
People on the shielding list are also advised against visiting any shops, including pharmacies.
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When will shielding end?
The UK Government has not issued any official guidance on when shielding could end.
In Wales, shielding has been extended until the end of March.
Boris Johnson is setting out a roadmap out of lockdown on Monday, February 22, so further guidance could be given then.
Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease are considered vulnerable[/caption]