Should I go outside or not – the dilemma for “shielders”?

The Government has recently announced that people who are shielding during the Coronavirus outbreak, due to health conditions, can begin to ease their lockdowns, with short outdoor walks and meeting people from outside their household whilst doing so.

However, this has caused some disquiet amongst those shielding and amongst some medical practitioners. We should all make our own minds up, based on the risks involved and, therefore, we all need to keep up to date with the Government’s advice, but also draw information from other sources: if you are shielding, these might include your GP or any specialists you see on a regular basis.

Below are a some reactions to the situation we spotted in the national media:

The science hasn’t changed and nor has the risk posed (Guardian column)

The science hasn’t changed and nor has the risk posed, so it is hard to understand why the guidance for high-risk people has. Now that the wider public are out and about more – and increasingly not following physical distancing rules – this is actually the time it feels more dangerous for people with underlying health conditions to step outside.

Sage advisers have warned a second wave is likely due to Boris Johnson easing the lockdown too early.  Only two days ago, England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, insisted that the country was at a “very dangerous moment”. If some experts deem it too soon for healthy people, how are high-risk groups supposed to feel safe? Read the full column here.

Poor Treatment for Those Shielding

Last week some people shielding received text messages saying that they were no longer on the medically vulnerable list. People were understandably shocked and confused. The advice is to contact your GP or specialist before acting on the text.

The Prime Minister spoke on 28 May of the need for people to continue shielding and promised more information soon. A group of charities has written to government saying that people shielding need more guidance and additional help and support, as lockdown eases.

Read the Guardian article.

Read the letter written to government.

Shielders face dilemma: Should I go outside or not? (From the BBC news website)

People across England and Wales with health conditions that make them vulnerable to coronavirus were allowed to spend time outdoors on Monday for the first time in 10 weeks. Some welcomed the chance to finally leave their homes, while others opted to stay indoors. Under the new rules, people who have been “shielding” are allowed outside once a day with members of their household, or with someone from another household while maintaining social distancing if they live alone.

More than two million people in England have been strictly isolating at home since March. They include cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and people with severe respiratory conditions. A surprise announcement relaxing the shielding advice was made over the weekend. Family doctors were told about the new measures only hours before they were made public, a senior official with the British Medical Association said, and the Royal College of GPs advised extreme caution, saying it was not a green light allowing people to return to ways of life pre-coronavirus.

Who should be shielding?
The government said it had engaged with leading health bodies in making the decision, and that it had relaxed the guidelines because levels of coronavirus transmission were significantly lower than when lockdown was first introduced.

But among some of those now free to leave their homes, there is a dilemma: should they take the risk?

Read the Government guidance here.