The 1.5million ‘extremely vulnerable’ people across the country will offered food, medicine and other deliveries as the nation tries to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.
At the daily press conference Boris Johnson confirmed the NHS is to begin sending out letters to the people most at risk of the disease urging them to remain at home for the next 12 weeks.
Mr Johnson said the ‘shielding’ of the 1.5 million people considered to be the most vulnerable to the coronavirus would do ‘more than any other single measure to save life’.
They include people with severe respiratory conditions and those suffering from some cancers such as those of the blood or marrow.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick today said that now was the time to ‘go further’ to shield clinically vulnerable people.
The 1.5million people identified by the government as ‘extremely vulnerable’ will be provided with aid packages. (Stock image)
‘In recent weeks heroic workers in the NHS, social care and public services in local government have been shouldering the country’s burden,’ he said.
Who are the ‘at risk’ groups who need to stay at home?
People with underlying health conditions including severe asthma and specific cancers are being urged to stay at home ‘at all times’ amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Children and adults already suffering from serious health conditions face the highest risk of needing hospital treatment for Covid-19, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
The Government has strongly advised people who fall into the high-risk categories to exercise ‘shielding’ measures by staying at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks.
Those at risk will be contacted by NHS England via letter and should implement the measures from the day they receive it, the DHSC said.
People who are most at risk include:
- Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer, as well as those with cancers of the blood or bone marrow who are at any stage of their treatment.
- People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer.
- Those undergoing targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors.
- People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the past six months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs.
- Those with respiratory conditions including severe asthma, severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis.
- Pregnant women who have significant heart disease.
The DHSC said people with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase infection are also classed as high-risk.
‘I think we owe it to them and the most vulnerable in society to stay home, to protect the NHS and, by doing this, to save lives.
‘And so today we have to go further to shield the most clinically vulnerable people to help save their lives.’
Earlier today, Mr Jenrick said that GPs were writing to thousands of patients with pre-existing health conditions and would be asking to stay at home.
Speaking to Sky’s Sophie Ridge today Mr Jenrick added that those without a ‘family at their side’ would be given food medicine and deliveries possible from the armed forces to help them through the crisis.
He said: ‘The Chief Medical Office has identified a group of individuals across the country for specific medical reasons, underlying health conditions, who are particularly at risk of coronavirus and we are writing to these people, that’s around 1.5 million people in England, and they are asking them as soon as practical, to stay at home and to do so for a prolonged period, perhaps as long as 12 weeks.
He added: ‘So the NHS will be delivering medicines to these people through the community pharmacy network and I’ve been working with councils, with supermarkets and with the armed forces, to ensure that food and other basic supplies can be delivered to the doorstep of these people, hundreds of thousands of people across the country for as long as it takes.’
He said that for normal shoppers, there was ‘enough food in the system’, calling on people to behave ‘responsibly and considerately’
Earlier today it was announced that the British Army had been called in to help organise food deliveries to people’s homes.
Mr Jenrick said people will be asked to rely on family and other co-habitants to bring supplies to them, with armed forces, supermarkets and the NHS co-ordinating to bring items to those totally isolated alone.
Mr Jenrick told Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday that the Government was not ruling out a complete lockdown of the country if people continued to flout pleas to socially distance from each other, amid huge crowds at beaches and in parks.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said that GPs were writing to hundreds of thousands of people with pre-existing health conditions
Instead they will be asked to rely on family and other co-habitants to bring supplies to them, with armed forces, supermarkets and the NHS co-ordinating to bring items to those totally isolated alone.
‘We want to live in a free society where we can continue to go about activities whilst following the medical advice,’ he said.
What is shielding?
Shielding is a measure to protect extremely vulnerable people by minimising interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.
This means that those who are extremely vulnerable should not leave their homes, and within their homes should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household.
This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) from coming into contact with the virus.
If you have a condition which makes you vulnerable or receive a letter from the NHS you should shield yourself to reduce the risk of catching the virus.
The measures are:
1. Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.
2. Do not leave your house.
3. Do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces for example family homes, weddings and religious services.
4. 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.
5. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
‘But this isn’t a game, it is very serious.
‘People need to follow that advice. If people don’t follow that advice then clearly we’ll have to consider other options, but none of us want to go down that route.’
Mr Jenrick said people can still go out for walks and take exercise, but they should stay away from others.
‘Lots of people sat out together in parks or on beaches. That isn’t sensible. We strongly discourage that,’ he said.
The move came as Boris Johnson called for Britons to resist visiting their parents on Mother’s Day, with the Prime Minister warning the Covid-19 outbreak is ‘accelerating’.
The Government and health officials have urged the 1.5 million people in England considered most at risk from the disease because of their health conditions to begin ‘shielding’ themselves by staying at home.
Letters will go out this week ‘strongly advising’ them not to go out for at least 12 weeks from Monday.
Mr Jenrick said: ‘The NHS will be delivering medicines to these people through the community pharmacy network and I’ve been working with councils, with supermarkets and with the armed forces, to ensure that food and other basic supplies can be delivered to the doorstep of these people, hundreds of thousands of people across the country for as long as it takes.
‘There is enough food in the system, we have a very resilient food sector, but we all need to behave responsibly and considerately.
‘That isn’t happening in all cases today and we need to make sure that happens.
‘Supermarkets are best placed to take action and put in place specific systems and schemes in their own stores, knowing their customers and what’s going on, on the ground and many are doing that, helping the elderly have specific times of day to go shopping or have special schemes in place for NHS and social care workers, and I strongly support that.
‘I really urge members of the public to behave responsibly, if you just shop for what you and your family need and there will be plenty of food for other people and their families.’