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When will shielding end? Lockdown roadmap advice for Covid vulnerable groups, and who should be shielding now

The i 25/02/2021 Alex Finnis
a living room with a large window: The Government has said shielding should no longer be necessary after March (Photo: Getty) © Provided by The i The Government has said shielding should no longer be necessary after March (Photo: Getty)

Boris Johnson has unveiled England’s roadmap out of lockdown, which will start with all pupils returning to school on 8 March.

Restrictions will be lifted in four stages, and will be done nationally, meaning no return to the regional tier system that was in place before lockdown.

The Rule of Six will return outdoors from 29 March, meaning families will be allowed to see each other again after three months.

In a best case scenario, shops, gyms, hairdressers and pubs and restaurants with outdoor seating will be allowed to reopen from 12 April.

And the good news for shielders is they will be included in this easing of restrictions.

When will shielding end?

The roadmap states that shielding will likely no longer be necessary from the end of March.

“The Government anticipates that it will no longer be necessary to advise shielding beyond the end of March 2021,” it says.

“The Government will confirm advice and next steps nearer the time to keep clinically extremely vulnerable people safe.”

Who has to shield?

The Government initially asked 2.2 million people to shield.

Many of these people are considered “clinically extremely vulnerable”, meaning they are at greater risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19.

These are the conditions that qualify for needing to shield, according to the NHS website:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients
  • People undergoing active chemotherapy
  • People with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
  • People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow
  • People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
  • People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system
  • People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months
  • People with severe respiratory conditions
  • People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections
  • People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
  • Adults with Down’s syndrome
  • Adults with kidney impairment
  • Those aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • People under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below:
    • Chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases
    • Chronic heart disease
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Chronic liver disease
    • Chronic neurological conditions
    • Diabetes
    • Those with a weakened immune system caused by a medical condition or medications
  • People who are seriously overweight
  • People who are pregnant

All of these people should have already been offered at least the first dose of the vaccine.

Last week the Government added a further 1.7 million people to the shielding list.

It came after Oxford University scientists developed a new model to determine whether someone is at risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19.

The new model is able to identify adults who are at risk due to a number of combined factors, rather than a single underlying health condition.

It looks at risk identifiers including age, sex, ethnicity, body mass index (BMI) and existing health conditions.

Postcodes are also considered, as they can be used to indicate levels of deprivation. People in more deprived areas can be more at risk from the virus, because of cramped housing conditions and inability to work from home.

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