There are currently 2.2 million people who have been clinically identified as being extremely vulnerable. Officials said all of these people – and their doctors – should now receive a letter explaining the changes to the guidance.
People were classified as clinically vulnerable in a range of situations, such as whether they were undergoing cancer treatment, had immunosuppression, or had conditions such as cystic fibrosis.
Officials said the basic list has not changed, but doctors are expected to contact anyone who they think is clinically very vulnerable, which could include other factors such as obesity.
Health officials said the previous protection system, while successful in keeping people at home, was a “blunt tool” that did some harm.
They said that many people “felt imprisoned” because of the previous advice, which many took it as a matter.
Dr Jenny Harris, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of England, said: “Over the past few weeks, we have seen a sharp increase in the spread of the virus across the country, and we know that clinically susceptible people are looking for practical advice on how they can survive while the virus is in Our communities.
The new system will provide an illustration of how best people in this group can keep themselves as safe as possible, depending on transmission rates in their local area. During the consultation, I would like to urge all affected people to follow directions where possible and to continue to access health services for their medical conditions.
“We will continue to closely monitor the evidence and refine this approach to ensure that everyone in this group is aware of the safest way to go about their daily lives, particularly during the upcoming winter months.”
Minister of Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “With Coronavirus rates continuing to rise, now is the time to take action and ensure that the most vulnerable groups in our society are protected.
Today’s announcement will mean that everyone at risk of dangerous consequences of the virus will receive specific advice targeting local levels, which they can follow to keep them as safe as possible, while ensuring that they are able to maintain as much normalcy in their lives as possible. ”
The clinically at risk group includes those with conditions that affect the immune system, certain types of cancer, and transplant recipients.
Officials said that people in exceptionally high-risk areas may be advised to adopt an official shield in the future, but that this would require a specific order from the chief medical officer.
If this advice is reintroduced in their area, they will be eligible for a support package, such as food parcels and drug delivery.