Coronavirus: The list of vulnerable groups being urged to follow strict social distancing

Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty (left) and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Valla

Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty (left) and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance stand with Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a coronavirus briefing in Downing Street. Picture: Richard Pohle/The Times /PA Wire - Credit: PA

Following the government’s announcement that people of all ages are being asked to stop “non-essential contact” in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak we take a look at who are the most vulnerable these measures are intended to protect.

Nurse wearing respirator mask holding a positive blood test result for the new rapidly spreading Cor

Nurse wearing respirator mask holding a positive blood test result for the new rapidly spreading Coronavirus, originating in Wuhan, China. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Samara Heisz - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In the first of his daily briefings on the spread of Covid-19 in Britain, prime minister Boris Johnson yesterday said “now is the time for everyone to stop and to stop all non-essential travel” as he urged people to work from home and avoid pubs, clubs and theatres.

He said people should start working from home “where they possibly can”.

“You should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues,” he said.

Those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.

Coronavirus. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/wildpixel

Coronavirus. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/wildpixel - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

This group includes those who are:


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• aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)

• under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):

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• chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis

The number of coronavirus cases has risen to over 1,000 today. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The number of coronavirus cases has risen to over 1,000 today. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire - Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

• 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), a learning disability or cerebral palsy

The Coronavirus Priority Assessment Pod at the James Paget Hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Coronavirus Priority Assessment Pod at the James Paget Hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

diabetes

• problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed

• a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy

being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)

• those who are pregnant

Note: there are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are in this category, next week the NHS in England will directly contact you with advice the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe. For now, you should rigorously follow the social distancing advice in full, outlined below.

People falling into this group are those who may be at particular risk due to complex health problems such as:

• People who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication

• People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy

• People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment

• People with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets)

• People with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)

What is social distancing?

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

They are:

• Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;

• Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible; 3.Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information;

• Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs

• Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.

• Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

• Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is pragmatic.

• For those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, we strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can, and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.

This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.

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