The UK government said on Sunday that up to “1.5m people in England who face the highest risk of being hospitalised” by coronavirus and are strongly urged to “shield themselves and stay at home”
People who are in this category will receive communication shortly with detailed advice on behalf of their GP practice or specialist on how best to protect themselves.
A raft of new measures, including a helpline for the most in need of support, 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 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. The people identified as the most vulnerable in their communities will be contacted directly – including in person where necessary – as a priority.
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.
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday, “We are working incredibly hard, day and night, to protect the nation’s public health whilst supporting our NHS so it can continue to look after patients in need of care.
“It is vital that we do everything we can to protect ourselves, our families and our friends from being impacted by the virus. But for those who are at the highest risk in our society, we have to do even more to ensure they’re kept safe.
“Whether it’s going shopping for a neighbour in need, or keeping inside if you know you’re at risk, we all have a part to play in protecting the welfare of those who are most vulnerable.”
Dr Paul Johnstone, Director at Public Health England said, “The NHS are contacting the people who are most vulnerable to developing a very serious illness as a result of COVID-19 with specific advice to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.
“If you receive a letter it is vitally important that you act on it for your own protection, don’t attend any gatherings of friends or families and don’t go out for shopping, leisure or travel.
“Those of us who are less at risk can play our part in protecting other people by following the government’s advice on social distancing and volunteering to give extra support to vulnerable people who are staying at home.”
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