Doctors and charities have warned the UK government not to prolong shielding and Coronavirus lockdown measures for over 70s.
Lockdown measures have been in place in the UK for around 5 weeks and it seems unlikely that the country will be able to fully return to normal anytime soon. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will set out plans for the next stage next week as the current lockdown measures are reviewed.
There have been some fears that older people may be asked to remain in lockdown for longer. According to the Times, the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of GPs have argued that a person’s age alone should not determine their ability to go about their daily lives when lockdown restrictions do begin to be eased. Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK also shared this opinion speaking earlier this week.
The government has previously said that people over the age of 70 could be especially vulnerable to the Coronavirus, however, there was confusion on Sunday morning over what the Coronavirus advice is for over 70s.
An article in the Sunday Times implied that all ‘clinically vulnerable’ people, including all over 70s, were being asked to stay in lockdown for 12 weeks. Health Secretary Matt Hancock responded to the article in a tweet, however, the wording of his tweet led to further confusion;
“the clinically vulnerable, who are advised to stay in lockdown for 12 weeks, emphatically DO NOT include all over 70s”.
“We have strongly advised all over 70s to follow social distancing measures.
“However, there is no ‘blanket ban’, and the suggestion that the clinically vulnerable include ‘people aged 70 or older regardless of medical conditions’ is wrong and deeply misleading.”
The Speaker Media Limited sought clarification from the Department for Health and Social Care on the advice, who said that those who have been advised to stay in lockdown for 12 weeks are classified as the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. This does not automatically include all over 70s, but those identified and contacted by the NHS.
Anybody over the age of 70 is automatically classed as ‘clinically vulnerable’ – this means they may be at higher risk from the virus, but they should be following the same lockdown measures as everyone else at this time.
Following Mr Hancock’s tweets on Sunday morning, the Health Secretary posted a link to an NHS webpage explaining who is at higher risk from the Coronavirus.
Photo Credit: Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street under licence (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)