New measures to protect people at highest risk from coronavirus
New measures, including a helpline for the most in need of support, have been set out for those considered to be extremely vulnerable.
People in England identified by the NHS as being at higher risk of severe illness if they contract coronavirus should stay at home to protect themselves, health bosses announced yesterday (March 22)
Up to 1.5 million people in England currently live with conditions or are taking medication or receiving treatment, which health experts have identified puts them at a much greater risk of developing serious complications if they get the virus, which may mean they need hospital treatment.
This includes, for example, those who have received organ transplants, are living with severe respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis and severe chronic bronchitis (COPD) or specific cancers like of the blood or bone marrow.
And some, though not all, of those receiving certain types of drug treatments including ones which suppress the immune system, leaving the body less able to fight off the virus.
People identified as belonging to one or more of the at-risk groups will be contacted by their GP practice, specialist or both strongly advising them to stay at home for a period of at least 12 weeks.
In the first instance they will receive a letter this week and, where mobile number is known, the NHS will also send frequent text messages shortly to those in this group, to reach the most at risk as quickly as possible with advice.
These communications will set out to reassure them that their ongoing medical needs will be met by the NHS, and contain advice and guidance on how to manage their condition while self-isolating, including getting prescriptions delivered and accessing support for daily living.
The spokesman said the new measure have been set out for those considered to be extremely vulnerable due to their medical conditions, so people know exactly how to care for themselves and others in the coming months.
It was also announced that a new Local Support System will make sure those individuals self-isolating at home and who are without a support network of friends and family will receive basic groceries. Community pharmacies will support those who need help getting their medicines delivered.
The spokesman said government is working with a partnership of the groceries industry, local government, local resilience and emergency partners, and voluntary groups, to ensure that essential items can start to be delivered as soon as possible to those who need it.
Members of the armed forces, already in local communities helping Local Resilience Forums and local councils on their coronavirus response plans, will support this effort and are at the heart of local planning in response to this crisis.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: ‘Public safety and making sure that those most at risk from the virus continue to get the support they need throughout this period is the Government’s top priority. People should stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.
‘This will be an especially worrying time for those with serious underlying health conditions and that is why we are urgently acting to ensure extremely vulnerable individuals are taking extra steps to shield themselves, and that the essential items they need are supplied to them.
‘We will ensure that vulnerable and older people in our society are left in no doubt of their importance to us and our determination to protect them as best we can. More people will be required to be by themselves at home. While they are on their own, let’s guarantee that they are never alone.’
The guidance for people at the highest risk is:
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 for at least 12 weeks starting on Monday 22 March.
Do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces e.g. family homes, weddings, parties 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 practice or other essential services as and when you need.
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