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Household isolation, social distancing and shielding – who should do what?

New clarification was issued by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The nation has been challenged to undertake social distancing measures in the face of tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

New clarification issued by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) sets out who is advised to avoid which social situations amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Here are questions answered on who needs to take which measures.

– What is household isolation?

If anyone is symptomatic – with a high temperature or a continuous cough – the whole household should stay at home for 14 days to avoid the spread of infection.

People who live alone should isolate themselves for seven days.

– Who needs to undertake “social distancing” measures?

Everyone has been asked to undertake social distancing measures to delay the spread of the virus.

– What is social distancing?

  • Avoid contact with someone who is unwell.
  • Avoid public transport.
  • Work from home.
  • Avoid large gatherings, religious congregations, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs.
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family particularly if someone has symptoms of Covid-19 or has recently been unwell.
  • Anyone who has symptoms or anyone who has been in contact with someone symptomatic should not be in contact with a vulnerable person for at least seven days.
  • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services

– Wasn’t there something about people with health conditions, over 70s and pregnant women?

The clarification from the DHSC states that these groups are “strongly advised” to undertake social distancing measures. Other people are “advised” to undertake these measures.

– Which health conditions are included in this group?

Essentially anyone who qualifies for a free flu jab on the NHS. This includes people with: chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis; 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; 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 or those who are seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above).

– How long will this go on for?

This advice is “likely to be in place for some weeks”, according to the Government’s web pages on coronavirus.

– What is shielding?

This is where people with the most significant problems are “shielded” from contact for 12 weeks. The DHSC said further detail will be set out on this in due course.

– When will ‘shielding’ come into force?

This is not yet in effect, but the Prime Minister indicated that people with the most significant health conditions would need to be shielded from contact for 12 weeks, starting from this weekend.

– Who needs to shielded?

DHSC said that broadly, the people that fall into this group include: 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).

The Department added that the shielding group is not defined by age.

PA