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Shielding advice for extremely vulnerable will end from April, says Government


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Patients who are clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid have been advised they can stop shielding from 1 April, the Government has announced.

Last month, clinically vulnerable people were told they should shield until ‘at least’ the end of March as part of the Government’s roadmap for exiting lockdown.

Today the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed that the almost four million extremely clinically vulnerable people on England’s shielded list ‘will be informed they are no longer advised to shield from Thursday 1 April 2021’.

Those on the shielded list can ‘begin to follow the national restrictions alongside the rest of the population’ from April, although they are ‘still advised to take extra precautions’ including ‘strict’ social distancing and low levels of social contact, it added.

Almost 3.8 million shielded patients in England will receive letters from today with ‘updated guidance’ on reducing their risk as advice to shield ceases, the DHSC said.

It added that more than nine in 10 clinically extremely vulnerable people have so far received their first dose of the Covid vaccine. 

Deputy chief medical officer for England Dr Jenny Harries said: ‘With the prevalence of the virus in the community continuing to decrease now is the right time for people to start thinking about easing up on these more rigid guidelines.

‘If you have been shielding, we strongly urge you to take extra precautions following 1 April to keep yourself as safe as possible, such as continuing to observe social distancing and working from home.’

Shielding advice will be adjusted ‘should there be any changes in infection rates’, she added.

It comes as the Government added 1.7 million people to the shielding list last month, with the launch of the QCovid risk algorithm.