Caution urged as shielding rules are eased

1 June 2020

The Government has updated its guidance for people who are 'shielding' in response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Clinically vulnerable people were initially advised to remain at home - or 'shield' - at all times for up to 12 weeks.

While updated guidance now enables people who were advised to shield to leave their home, as long as they adhere to strict social distancing, clinicians continue to urge a note of caution.

Dr Chris Ritchieson, Medical Director for Cheshire West Integrated Care Partnership, said: "Although the Government guidance for shielded patients has been relaxed slightly, we know that there continue to be a number of new cases of COVID-19 in the community, both locally and nationally. As such it is important for us all to remain cautious and to stay at home where possible.

"I'm sure many people who have been shielding throughout lockdown will continue to isolate for the time being, as this - combined with social distancing and adhering to hygiene advice - is the safest way of protecting yourself from COVID-19. If in doubt, stay at home."
The shielded group of 'clinically extremely vulnerable' people are at high risk of getting seriously ill from infection from COVID-19. Over 2.2 million people nationally were contacted by the NHS by letter, phone or text message back in March and April and told that they should self-isolate or 'shield' at home for a period of up to 12 weeks.

In Cheshire West, as in many other parts of the country, a network of emergency support was set up help people in this group who did not have help from family, friends or neighbours to obtain essential supplies of food, medicine and social support, through a co-ordinated community response by the council, health and the voluntary sector.

Director of Public Health at Cheshire West and Chester Council, Ian Ashworth, said: "We understand that life continues to be very hard for people who are shielding, and that everyone's personal circumstances will differ. Even though the advice has now changed, people in this group are highly vulnerable to developing complications as a result of infection from COVID-19. We recommend caution and very careful planning if you decide to leave home."

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