The government has released a list of people considered most at risk of suffering complications if they catch coronavirus.
As the UK death toll from the disease reaches 55, new public health measures have been introduced today which could remain in place for 18 months.
Brits have been urged to stay away from pubs and theatres, avoid non-essential travel and to self-isolate for 14 days if anyone in their household develops potential coronavirus symptoms.
The government has also updated its advice on who is most at risk from the virus.
This includes people who have/are:
- aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds)
- chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)
- those who are pregnant
The official advice says there are some people who are at an even greater risk of "severe illness" from COVID-19.
Those in this category include:
- People who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication
- People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy
- People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment
- People with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets)
- People with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that those in vulnerable groups – including everyone over 70 – will be asked to avoid contact by isolating except in very specific circumstances.
Public Health England chief medical officer Chris Whitty described the new guidance for those more at risk as "absolutely critical".
"The group of people who we would want to take this advice particularly seriously are older people above 70, people who in adult life would normally be advised to have the flu vaccination," he said.
The advice follows last week's measures that were put in place to "mitigate" the outbreak. Now that's been replaced by efforts to "suppress" coronavirus after experts said leaving things at the mitigation stage would result in 250,000 Brits dying.
- Boris Johnson
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