'It has become difficult to move on': Why Wales' most vulnerable are still living with Covid fear

  • Watch the report by Charanpreet Khaira

People living with disabilities and those particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 say they are still living in fear about Covid, even though shielding is over.

Alex Osborne lives with the lifelong condition multiple sclerosis that affects her brain and nervous system.

She told ITV News that after months of being told she's "extremely vulnerable" to Covid-19, it has become difficult to move on - even if the rest of society is getting back to life as normal.

Her MS nurse and neurologist have advised her to stay away from busy places, like shops, and not to use public transport. As everything opens up, she said she feels "left behind".

  • "Life is still pretty far from normal"

MS is an autoimmune condition. To treat it, Alex takes drugs that suppress her immune system. Those same drugs limit the efficacy of the Covid vaccine.

Although she has had both of her jabs, she said her immunity to the disease was very low.

As Covid cases rise, many feel anxious about the possibility of catching the disease - even if they are vaccinated.

Dr David Bailey from the British Medical Association said, "Whilst the vast majority of us have had two vaccines, we've actually got ten times the Covid incidence rate in Wales that we had this time last year.

"The whole point about people who are extremely clinical vulnerable, many of them have immunosuppression so many of them don't respond as well to the vaccine as other people."

Wales moved to Alert Level 0 in August which saw an easing of many restrictions. That included an end to having to wear masks in hospitality settings, despite still being required on public transport, in shops and healthcare settings.

Alert Level Zero: The Covid rules explained in Wales

Meeting indoors

From 6am on 7 August, will be no legal limits on the number of people who can meet, including in private homes, public places or at events.

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What businesses can reopen?

Any businesses currently still closed will be able to re-open. This includes nightclubs and other entertainment venues.

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What about self-isolating?

From midnight on 7 August, adults who are fully vaccinated and children and young people under the age of 18, will no longer need to isolate if they are identified as close conatcts of someone who has coronavirus.

This was announced by the First Minister last week.

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Social distancing

It's not yet clear whether or not the 'two-metre rule' under which businesses are obliged by law to ensure social distancing in the workplace will be dropped.

Welsh Government sources say that it is one of the final details being discussed.

In its announcement, the government says premises and workplaces will have "more flexibility" about which "reasonable measures they take" to minimise the risk of the virus.

"These should be tailored to their risk assessment and their specific circumstances".

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Jan is a part-time English teacher at Bangor University. She has received a letter from her GP saying she is 'high risk' because of her complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

It is a condition where someone experiences persistent, severe and debilitating pain. She recently took a coronavirus risk assessment which said she should not return to work, and her bosses have now agreed that she will continue to work from home.

  • "I don't feel safe around people"

"Everybody is preparing to go back into work and I don't want to go and put myself in any danger. I don't feel safe around people... I would like to go back to work but I'm not prepared to catch Covid and to possibly contract long Covid which is horrendous."

The advice for vulnerable people from the Welsh Government is to follow the same rules as the rest of the population but to take extra precautions to keep themselves safe from the virus.

That means limiting contact with others, wearing face masks, and working from home where possible.