The government has updated its guidance for people who are shielding taking into account that COVID-19 disease levels have decreased over the last few weeks.
Around 200,000 cancer patients who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions but can now leave their home if they wish, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing.
Doctors in England have identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about the virus so far, place some people at greatest risk of severe illness from coronavirus and the list of extremely vulnerable people includes people with specific cancers and those at certain points in their treatment.
If any of the following applies to you, please follow the updated advice on shielding (detailed below):
- someone with cancer undergoing active chemotherapy
- someone with lung cancer undergoing radical radiotherapy
- someone with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma at any stage of treatment
- someone having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- someone having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- someone who has had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or are still taking immunosuppression drugs
Those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to take additional action to prevent exposure with the virus. If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you’re strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and keep visits outside to a minimum (for instance once per day).
The updated guidelines are:
- If you wish to spend time outdoors (though not in other buildings, households, or enclosed spaces) you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping 2 metres apart.
- If you choose to spend time outdoors, this can be with members of your own household. If you live alone, you can spend time outdoors with one person from another household (ideally the same person each time).
- You should stay alert when leaving home: washing your hands regularly, maintaining social distance and avoiding gatherings of any size.
- You should not attend any gatherings, including gatherings of friends and families in private spaces, for example, parties, weddings and religious services.
- You should strictly avoid contact with anyone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, your sense of taste or smell).
The Government is currently advising extremely vulnerable people to shield until 30 June 2020 and is regularly monitoring this position.
For more information on government-led guidance on shielding, click here.
If you’re currently shielding and are looking for support, click here for details on how local groups have adapted to be able continue supporting cancer patients and their families.
You can also view our Project Officer Zoe’s top tips for shielding below.