Some vulnerable people in Coventry & Warwickshire at increased risk from COVID-19 due to existing medical conditions have been told they no longer need to be part of the government’s national shielding programme.

Letters have been sent to patients whose medical records have been reviewed and who can now cease following strict shielding guidance, including self-isolation if they wish.

This means they can now safely follow the guidance which applies to the rest of the population, such as leaving their house to shop and returning to work if they are unable to work from home so long as social distancing rules are observed.

The government is relaxing the shielding advice in two stages.

From Monday 6 July, those shielding can spend time outdoors in a group of up to six people, including those outside of their household.

Extra care should be taken to minimise contact with others by maintaining social distancing. This can be in a public outdoor space, or in a private garden or uncovered yard or terrace.

All adults, including the clinically extremely vulnerable, who live alone or with dependent children only can form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household and spend time together inside each other's homes, including overnight.

From Saturday 1 August – a month later than had been originally announced - the advice will be relaxed further, with people who are clinically extremely vulnerable able to go to work or to the shops, as long as they are able to maintain social distancing.

The NHS will continue to maintain the Shielded Patient List so it can continue to provide targeted advice whenever necessary.

Local authority support for those shielding will be extended to the end of July – this includes the delivery of food and medicines.

NHS Volunteer Responders will also continue to offer support to those who need it, including collecting and delivering food and medicines. The number to call is 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm).

A spokesperson for the Coventry & Warwickshire Health & Care Partnership – which comprises all of the area’s NHS organisations and local authorities – said: “Although this indicates positive progress in the way we are able to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it also means that, for the very vulnerable, support services they have come to rely upon will no longer be there.

“As a result, we would encourage neighbours, friends and family members to provide previously-shielded members of the community with as much extra support as possible whilst continuing to observe all of the existing social distancing guidelines.”

Local health services will continue to provide care and support to shielding patients with chronic conditions, including the provision of mobile blood testing clinics to avoid the need to visit hospitals.

Anyone who has concerns or questions about the new guidance should speak to their GP or hospital specialist.

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