Coronavirus: Shielding and Staying at Home (Over-70s and Others)

Dear Constituent,

Thank you for contacting me about shielding and social distancing.

This is a difficult time for people across the country, and I am extremely grateful to everyone who has been following government guidance by staying alert and keeping socially distant to slow the spread of the virus and reduce pressure on the NHS frontline.

Covid-19 spreads mainly when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. By limiting the amount of contact people have with each other, we can slow down the spread of the infection.

Until there is a method for treating, or preventing, this virus, through medicines or vaccines, some social distancing measures are likely to be in place. This is particularly important for groups that have been identified to be of greater risk of experiencing the illness in its most severe form, or of experiencing complications. These groups include people over 70, people under 70 with an underlying health condition like asthma, diabetes, or a weakened immune system, and those who are pregnant.

I welcome clear Government guidance that enables people who are shielding to go outside with members of their household, or to meet one member from outside their household if they live alone, while maintaining social distance. This will be a most welcome step for individuals who have been unable to see family, or even leave the house, since March.

If you have any of the following health conditions, you may be clinically vulnerable, meaning you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble.

Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):
    • chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
    • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
    • chronic kidney disease
    • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
    • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
    • diabetes
    • a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions or medicines they are taking (such as steroid tablets)
    • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
    • pregnant women

As above, there is a further category of people with serious underlying health conditions who are clinically extremely vulnerable, meaning they are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You, your family and carers should be aware of the guidance on shielding which provides information on how to protect yourself still further should you wish.

It is so important that members of the public continue to follow the guidance laid out by the Government, even though I know that this can be challenging. Our absolute priority must be to save lives by slowing the spread of the virus.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.