Thousands of vulnerable ‘to spend winter indoors as Government brings back shielding’
Hundreds of thousands of Brits face spending winter inside as the Government prepares to resume shielding the vulnerable in hotspots, it has been reported.
Under new measures that could be announced next week, vulnerable people in areas with high infection rates could be told to stay indoors.
Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, has been designing a “tailored shielding” scheme that would be enforced with more personalised advice over blanket rules, The Times reports.
The proposals would replace those which saw 2.2million Brits locked away earlier this year into August in a move that caused a huge emotional toll for many.
Depression and anxiety were twice as common among the shielded as among other similar people, studies found.
Loneliness, fears about finding food and concerns for their health played about the minds of many in isolation.
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This time around people would not be banned from going out, but told when it was safe to do things like shopping, guided by an algorithm developed by the University of Oxford.
A Whitehall source told the publication: “It is a big ask to lock people away to cocoon over what could be a long winter.”
The proposals, which have not been finalised, come amid soaring infection rates in the North.
Across the country there are also rapidly rising Covid-19 hospital admissions, with 609 coronavirus patients being taken in for care yesterday.
During the first lockdown, shielding helped stopped the NHS from being overwhelmed.
But in parts of the country intensive care units are already under strain from the sheer number of Covid-19 patients needing care.
It is likely that shielding will be introduced in line with the three tier system in place across the country to determine which areas should have which restrictions enforced, the Times adds.
Martin Marshall, head of the Royal College of GPs, said that widespread shielding should be introduced only if “absolutely necessary”.
It may be that that point is reached, if hospitalisations and coronavirus cases continue to rise at their current rate.
It was reported earlier today that the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care in the north-east and Yorkshire could soon surpass the April peak.
The bleak prediction was made in a briefing chaired by Chris Whitty and Minister of State for Health at the Department of Health and Social Care Ed Argar.
In a recording of the meeting an official can be heard explaining how dire the situation is looking in the north-east of England and Yorkshire.
“There are 94 people in ICU beds in the north-east at the moment, averaged over the last week that is around 80 in bed a day in the last week,” an official can be heard saying in the leaked audio.
He adds: “We have seen a doubling in number of ICU beds in 13 days.
“If you play that growth rate forward you get to 304 people in ICU beds in 22 days time, that would be above the peak of the first wave when we have 302 people in ICU beds.”
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