COVID-19 – Shielding to protect the most vulnerable

COVID-19 – Shielding to protect the most vulnerable

People classed as clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to take additional action to prevent themselves from coming into contact with COVID-19. If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you are strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and keep visits outside to a minimum (for instance once per day).

This is called ‘shielding’ and the advice has now been updated:

  1. If you wish to spend time outdoors (though not in other buildings, households, or enclosed spaces) you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping 2 metres apart.
  2. If you choose to spend time outdoors, this can be with members of your own household. If you live alone, you can spend time outdoors with one person from another household (ideally the same person each time).
  3. You should stay alert when leaving home: washing your hands regularly, maintaining social distance and avoiding gatherings of any size.
  4. You should not attend any gatherings, including gatherings of friends and families in private spaces, for example, parties, weddings and religious services.
  5. You should strictly avoid contact with anyone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in sense of taste or smell).

People who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be under the care of a GHA consultant, and meet the criteria listed below:

  1. Solid organ transplant recipients.
  2. People with specific cancers:
    o     people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
    o     people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
    o     people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    o     people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    o     people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    o     people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppressant medication.
  3. People with severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  4. People with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell).
  5. People on immunosuppressant therapy sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
  6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

Those who do not fit into these categories should take normal flu season precautions e.g. avoid crowds, social distancing, hand gels etc., but can return to work. There is always a final clause dependent on clinician judgement, but this should be very rare.

If you still have concerns, you should discuss these with your GP or hospital clinician.