Vulnerable people who were previously shielding during the pandemic have been given new advice following a significant rise in cases of the virus in Wales.
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, is issuing letters to everyone on the shielding patients list (SPL) on how best to protect themselves during the second wave.
While he is not advising people to shield themselves for a second time, Dr Atherton said they need to “take extra care” by reducing contact with other people as much as they can.
He added that if contact was necessary with people from outside the household either indoors or outdoors, he said it needs to be “two metres or three steps away” to avoid potential transmission.
Dr Atherton also said it was “extremely important” for this group to get their flu vaccination to provide extra protection against serious illness.
Meanwhile, due to the fact most young people are not getting seriously ill with Covid-19, a review is taking place to see whether under 18s need to remain on the shielding list.
During the last full UK lockdown which began in March, people with medical conditions which made them particularly at risk should they catch coronavirus, were told to take extra measures, including staying at home. This advice was paused on August 16.
However, a “fire-break” lockdown is being placed on all Welsh residents from 6pm on Friday for 17 days.
Here is the full letter Dr Atherton is sending to people on the shielding list:
Advice – taking extra care as coronavirus levels increase
You have received this letter because you are on the shielding patients list (SPL).
Coronavirus levels are rising in communities in Wales and new restrictions are being put in place, so this letter gives you advice on how to keep yourself safe.
You do not need to restart shielding, but you should take extra care and this letter tells you what you can do. You can show this information to your friends and family so that they can also behave in a way that keeps you safe. If my advice changes I will write to you again.
Why I am writing to you but not advising you to shield
The Chief Medical Officers from across the UK continue to discuss the best way to support people who are most likely to have a poor outcome from the effects of coronavirus.
We know that shielding helped to make some people feel safer, but for many others there was a significant downside to the advice given, especially from the feelings of loneliness and isolation.
As we understand the impacts of coronavirus more fully now, we also know that many groups of people who are most likely to be very seriously ill or die are not covered by the medical conditions approach we took previously.
This includes certain ethnic groups and those from our most deprived communities. We are looking to apply the learning from the last six months in any advice that we give to you, the wider public and ministers.
In that time all of us have learned that a number of simple measures, as long as we follow them strictly, can help to keep us safe. Different rules are in place to ensure public spaces are Covid safe, and employers have worked hard to provide a safe working environment.
This virus is likely to be part of our lives for some time yet and so I want to support you to live safely alongside it.
I recognise that this is a very worrying and challenging time for you and your family. I want to help you understand the choices you can make to minimise your own risk and also help you discuss with your family and friends how they can support you by following the same advice.
The guidance here is not just for those who were shielding before – everybody can follow it to reduce their risk.
Choices you can make and action you can take to reduce your risk
One of the changes as part of the national fire-break is that people can no longer meet with people from another house (known as extended households). This is because we know the virus is spreading through family groups and where social distancing is not being followed.
I advise that you think about your family members or friends who you are in contact with and reduce contact as much as you can, even if these restrictions change after the fire-break period.
If you do continue to have contact, you should keep two metres or three steps away. You should clean your hands and surfaces within your home regularly. Please remember anyone