A hint that UK shouldn’t get its hopes up about lockdown easing next month? No10 says nation’s shielders should stay indoors until March 31 – and adds up to a MILLION more Britons to the list
- Around two million people were on the original shielding list for medical reasons
- They were among the first in line for vaccines but shielding advice is still in place
- Extension of end-date to April suggests medics don’t think March will be safe
- New additions to shielding list could be based on age, ethnicity, homelessness
The end date for shielding has been extended by more than a month with the medically at-risk told to stay at home until March 31, leaked emails suggest.
And the list of people who should stay at home to shield themselves from the coronavirus may be getting expanded by up to one million people.
Almost a year after the epidemic started in Britain health chiefs are now considering urging more people to protect themselves and to do so for longer than anticipated, the Health Service Journal reports.
The date appears to pour cold water on hopes that lockdown rules in Britain could start to be eased next month, suggesting medics don’t think society will be safe.
This is despite the Covid vaccine rollout steaming ahead, with millions of people in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ group immunised already – they were one of the top four priority groups targeted before February 15.
People who are shielding are advised not to leave their homes at any time, except for brief exercise or medical appointments, because they are at high risk of severe Covid-19 if they catch the coronavirus.
The reasons behind expanding the list at such a late stage are not yet clear, but it is expected to go beyond looking only at people’s health conditions and to include their age, ethnicity, level of deprivation and whether or not they are homeless.
People on the shielding list were among the first in line for Covid vaccines in the UK. (Pictured: Glasgow resident John Loch, 69, receives his jab at the NHS Louisa Jordan Hospital on February 10)
GPs were notified about the changes to the shielding list in an email sent around from NHS bosses and the Department of Health yesterday.
The email said that a new ‘data-driven risk assessment’ had been set up which was identifying more people who ought to be shielding but weren’t.
It was not immediately clear who these people were, but they will also be bumped up the vaccine priority list, the HSJ reported.
It’s unclear exactly how many people will be added, but Salford Clinical Commissioning Group told the website it could mean a further 7,000 people in the Manchester town could be classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.
Crudely extrapolating that number across all 135 CCGs in England could mean almost a million more people will be urged to stay indoors.
The original shielding list included 2.2million patients with conditions including cancer, kidney disease and Down’s Syndrome.
WHO WAS ON THE ORIGINAL SHIELDING LIST?
People who are considered ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ should all have received an official letter warning them that they are on the shielding list and should stay at home unless necessary.
People on the shielding list include:
- Organ transplant recipients;
- People having chemotherapy for cancer;
- Lung cancer patients receiving radical radiotherapy;
- People with blood or bone marrow cancer such as leukaemia;
- Cancer patients receiving immunotherapy or other therapies that affect the immune system;
- Bone marrow or stem cell transplant recipients who had the procedure during the last six months or are still taking immunosuppressant drugs;
- People with debilitating lung conditions including cystic fibrosis, bad asthma or severe COPD;
- Those with rare condition that increase the risk of infection, such as homozygous sickle cell disease;
- Patients having immunosuppressant therapies that raise infection risk;
- Pregnant women with significant heart disease;
- Others who have been individually judged extremely vulnerable by doctors;
- Adults with Down’s syndrome;
- People with stage 5 kidney disease.