In the UK people have been told to stay at home during the coronavirus lockdown. People are allowed to leave their homes in certain circumstances, such as to buy essentials or for outdoor exercise. But some of the most vulnerable people have been told to shield at home for a 12-week period, to protect themselves against COVID-19.
What is shielding?
The Government has identified people with certain medical conditions as at greater risk of severe illness should they become infected with COVID-19.
If you are considered clinically extremely vulnerable, the Government is strongly advising you to shield.
This means not leaving your house, and avoiding all face-to-face contact with other people.
When shielding, you should not attend any gatherings of any kind, and you should strictly avoid contact with someone displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
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When will shielding end?
The UK Government has recently begun easing some lockdown restrictions.
People are allowed to take unlimited exercise outside of the home and can meet with one other person from outside their household as long as they adhere to social distancing rules.
However, the Government is not advising people who are shielding to leave their homes for some time.
According to the Government website, people are being advised to shield until the end of June, and the Government “is regularly monitoring this position”.
Recently Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new COVID Alert System, which the Government will use going forward to determine the risk of COVID-19 in the UK.
The UK is currently at stage four of the scale, but the Government will be gradually taking steps into stage three over the coming weeks and months.
The further easing of lockdown measures will depend on the rate of COVID-19 infection in the UK, along with other data.
Whether shielding measures will definitely be relaxed by the end of June is dependent on the data, and the Government may decide to extend the shielding advice after the end of June should they deem it necessary.
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How can you register for Government support when shielding?
People who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable should have received a letter from the NHS in England.
This letter outlines advice and further support which is available for people who are currently shielding.
The letter will detail your NHS number, which is helpful to have to hand when registering for support.
You can register online with the Government website if you need any extra support, such as essential groceries delivered to your home.
You can also contact the Government helpline on 0800 028 8327 to register.
If you have not received a letter or have not been contacted by your GP and are concerned about shielding, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician.
The Government website outlines further support for people who are shielding, including looking after your mental wellbeing and tips on how to stay connected with family and friends.
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