NHS shares new guidance for extremely vulnerable people as lockdown eases

The guidance has been relaxed a little. (Getty Images)
The guidance has been relaxed a little. (Getty Images)

The NHS has shared an update on its Twitter page for extremely vulnerable people who are shielding because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Today marks the beginning of an easing on England’s current restrictions, which includes some primary school children going back to school.

When Boris Johnson announced the new guidelines on 28 May, he also said the government was looking at ways to make the lockdown more palatable for the UK’s most vulnerable people.

Now the NHS has confirmed that extremely vulnerable people are able to spend time outdoors whilst still adhering to social distancing guidelines.

The guidelines now state: “People who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions, but they can now leave their home if they wish, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing.”

Extremely vulnerable people can spend time outdoors with members of their own household or one person from another household if they live alone, “ideally this should be the same person each time”.

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According to official government advice, doctors in England have placed these people in the “severely vulnerable” category:

  1. Solid organ transplant recipients.

  2. People with specific cancers:

    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy

    • people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy

    • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment

    • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer

    • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors

    • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs

  3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all 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 immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.

  6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

  7. Other people have also been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on clinical judgement and an assessment of their needs. GPs and hospital clinicians have been provided with guidance to support these decisions.

People who are not included in this list and/or haven’t received a letter from their GP to confirm their vulnerability status can follow the government’s standard coronavirus guidance.

There are a number of people on the moderate risk list who should also take special care.

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The changes in advice to those who were shielding has been changed because “COVID-19 disease levels are substantially lower now than when shielding was first introduced”.

The government has confirmed that this advice is under “constant review”.

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