The Government has placed the UK on virtual lockdown in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
People have been told to stay at home and only leave the house to buy food and get medicine, to undertake one stint of outdoor exercise per day, and work from home if possible.
However, the advice goes even further for the elderly and those with certain health conditions, so, who should do what?
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.
The original person who was infected should isolate themselves for seven days or until their symptoms end, whichever is longer.
People who live alone should isolate themselves for seven days.
If you or someone in your household is displaying symptoms or has been diagnosed with Covid-19, you should not even leave the house to get food, you should ask someone to buy it for you and leave it on your doorstep.
If urgent medical help is required, you should call NHS 111 or 999 in severe situations.
Who needs to undertake “social distancing” measures?
Everyone in the country should avoid leaving the house, and meeting up with anyone who is not part of your household is banned, even if you do so in an outdoor space.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness.
This means working from home, staying away from others when food shopping or out for exercise, and not making trips unless they are absolutely necessary.
If you do mix with others - for example key workers or in supermarkets - stay at least two metres away from people and do not have any physical contact with anyone else.
Wasn’t there something about people with health conditions, over 70s and pregnant women?
Pregnant women, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions should remain at home even more than others.
These people should ask others to go to the shops or collect medicines for them - with items being left on the doorstep.
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).
What about the most vulnerable?
People who have compromised immune systems or severe underlying health conditions should not leave their homes for any reason.
The Department of Health and Social Care 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).
This group is not defined by age.
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?
Shielding is the term given to the way in which pregnant women, the vulnerable and elderly should be treated - those more able should carry out tasks for them to help them avoid as many people as possible.