People with serious underlying health conditions (listed below) which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) are being advised to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe.
People falling into this extremely vulnerable group include:
- Solid organ transplant recipients
- People with specific cancers:
- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
- 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
- People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
- People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
- People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
- Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
The NHS in England is directly contacting people with these conditions to provide further advice.
Shielding measures are:
- Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.
- Do not leave your house.
- Do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces for example family homes, weddings and religious services.
- Do not go out for shopping, leisure or travel and, when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact.
- Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
Do use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.
This advice will be in place for at least 12 weeks from the day you receive your letter.
If you live with others in your household
Whilst the rest of your household are not required to adopt these protective shielding measures for themselves, we would expect them to do what they can to support you in shielding and to stringently follow guidance on social distancing.
- Minimise as much as possible the time other family members spend in shared spaces and keep shared spaces well ventilated.
- Aim to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from people you live with and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible. If you can, you should use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. Make sure you use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes.
- If you do share a toilet and bathroom with others, it is important that they are cleaned after use every time (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Another tip is to consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with you using the facilities first.
- If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it while they are present. If you can, you should take your meals back to your room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family’s used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If you are using your own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.
- We understand that it will be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others at home. You should do your very best to follow this guidance and everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and clean frequently touched surfaces.
If the rest of your household stringently follow advice on social distancing and minimise the risk of spreading the virus within the home by following the advice above, there is no need for them to also shield alongside you.
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature above 37.8 °C and/or new and continuous cough), seek clinical advice using the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS111 if you don’t have internet access. In an emergency, call 999 if you are seriously ill. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital. Do this as soon as you get symptoms.
To help the NHS provide you with the best care if you need to go to hospital as a result of catching coronavirus, we ask that you prepare a single hospital bag. This should include your emergency contact, a list of the medications you take (including dose and frequency), any information on your planned care appointments and things you would need for an overnight stay (snacks, pyjamas, toothbrush, medication etc). If you have an advanced care plan, please include that.
Help with obtaining food or medicines Ask family, friends or neighbours or email: email@example.com and use online services wherever possible.
Please discuss your daily needs during this period of staying at home with carers, family, friends, neighbours or local community groups to see how they can support you. Please visit gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable from Tuesday 24 March 2020 to register for the support that you need. This includes help with food, shopping deliveries and additional care you might need.
Further information is available on the NHS website
Please see new page on how to shield the most vulnerable from infection