Thousands of residents in Bridgend county borough who have been identified as being at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus have been sent a letter advising them to continue to ‘shield’ until August 16.
The letter, from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, explains that while the shielding period has been extended, those who are shielding can now leave their home to exercise or meet outside with people from another household.
The guidance is for use by people who are shielding in their own home, or are in long-term care facilities. Only adults and children with the most serious underlying health conditions are being advised to shield themselves.
The letter states people should strictly follow physical distancing of being two metres away from another person and people should practice good hygiene, including frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitiser, and avoiding touching things that others have touched.
The Welsh Government said the advice had changed because the number of people with coronavirus has gone down, research has shown the virus does not spread as easily outside as it does indoors and staying at home for long periods of time can affect people’s health and wellbeing.
Local authorities have been provided with the contact details of those who have been identified as high risk to enable them to offer support.
The Leader, Cllr Huw David, said: “The letter from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales contains a range of further information and advice, including how those who have no-one else who can support them, are able to get medication and other essential items such as food.
“It follows a letter sent out in March to people who were identified as being at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus, urging them to stay at home for 12 weeks.
“Over the last few months, we have been working closely with Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations and other community partners to make sure that a comprehensive support package is in place for these people during this time.
“The latest advice is for those who received a shielding letter to stay shielding until August 16 –they are now able to leave their home to exercise or meet outside with people from another household if they follow physical distancing.
“However coronavirus has not gone away and people need to ensure they follow the guidance at all times.”
The letter also details what people should do if they live with someone who doesn’t need to shield, and how people can look after their health and emotional wellbeing.
The Chief Medical Officer will write again to those who are shielding advising them what to do after August 16.
Welsh Government said major supermarkets had been provided with the contact details of those who have been identified as high risk to allow them to prioritise online shopping slots.
To ensure all high risk patients are contacted, GPs and now hospital doctors are able to add people to the shielding list.
Welsh Government said there was a much broader group of vulnerable people who had not been written to but who had been previously been advised through published guidance to rigorously follow the social distancing advice in order to help reduce the risk of catching coronavirus.
It said people in Wales were not being asked to register as vulnerable but if they were vulnerable they should ask family, friends and neighbours to support them and use online services.
Residents who receive the letter are asked to contact Bridgend County Borough Council on 01656 643643 for help if they:
– do not have family members who can help or
– do not have a local support network of friends (or others) which can help, or
– do not have support from a carer or community organisation which can help
To see the full details on guidance around those who are shielding visit the Welsh Government website here.
Things people who are shielding should be doing to stay safe
- DO keep 2 metres or three steps away from other people outside your home and within your home. It will be more difficult in your home if you live with others but you should try to do it as best you can.
- DO leave your home to undertake exercise if you want to. You can leave your home to exercise outside as many times as you want to but please stay local and try to avoid busy places so you can keep 2 metres or three steps away from other people.
- DO meet outside with people from another house locally if you want to but always keep 2 metres or three steps away.
- DO regularly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- DO ask neighbours, friends and family to bring you food and medicine.
- DO contact your local supermarket for priority online shopping.
- DO keep in touch with people using the phone, internet and social media.
- DO use telephone or online services to contact your GP, pharmacy or other day-to-day services.
- DO contact Bridgend County Borough Council 01656 643643 if you have no one who can help you
Things people who are shielding should not be doing to stay safe
- DO NOT get close to with anyone who is showing signs of coronavirus. This could be any or all of the following: high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature), a new and continuous cough, a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste.
- DO NOT attend any gatherings indoors. This includes gatherings of friends and families – for example, in family homes or weddings and religious services.
- DO NOT go out shopping. When arranging food deliveries, these should be left at the front door.
- DO NOT go to your GP, pharmacy or hospital withoutphoning first.You should speak to your pharmacy about how you can get your medicine.
- DO NOT go to your place of work if this is outside your home. You should only work if you can work from home.
- DO NOT go to school. You should learn from home.
Public Heath Wales guidance has identified 2 groups within the population whose underlying medical conditions may increase their risk of developing serious illness if exposed to coronavirus.
Group 1. Those individuals who are extremely vulnerable and at high risk of severe illness if exposed to coronavirus. These individuals have been advised to follow ‘shielding measures’ and stay at home stopping all non-essential contact with others. A full list of medical conditions included in this group is available on the Welsh Government website here.
Individuals in this group will have previously received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer advising them to shield until June 15th.
Group 2. Those individuals who have an underlying condition that puts them at increased risk of severe illness if exposed to Covid-19 so need to follow particularly stringent social distancing measures. A full list of medical conditions included in this group is available on the Welsh Government website here.
***Public Heath Wales guidance has identified two groups within the population whose underlying medical conditions may increase their risk of developing serious illness if exposed to coronavirus. A full list of medical conditions for those in Group 1 who have been advised to shield is available here. For a full list of medical conditions included in Group 2 who need to follow stringent social distancing measures visit here.***