Plus added to list of most vulnerable to staying home for 12 weeks

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More people with illnesses – making them particularly vulnerable to coronaviruses – are being added to the government’s protection program, said England’s chief medical officer.

Professor Chris Whitty said that medical specialists and general practitioners had helped identify other patients who were not initially included in the high-risk group who needed special protection in the midst of the pandemic. coronavirus.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference on Tuesday, Professor Whitty said health officials have already identified around 1.5 million people who need to have “absolute minimum” contact with others.

Last month, the government said people in the high-risk categories should protect themselves by staying at home at all times and avoiding face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks.

Professor Whitty said a first wave of letters informing people they need to implement measures has been sent, a second wave due out this week.

He said the “vast majority” of high-risk people were identified centrally through medical records.

This focus on clinically vulnerable people, including children, covers people with certain conditions, such as severe asthma, specific cancers, solid organ transplant recipients and pregnant women with heart disease important.

But Professor Whitty added, “There are other people who have been identified either by specialized medical groups or, in some cases, by general practitioners, who know that someone has a group of conditions or a condition particular who is not on the list but makes them particularly vulnerable … so some people were added to the list as a result of this. ”

Professor Whitty did not specify which medical conditions meant that these additional people qualified for the protection program.

He also explained that some who were asked to observe protective measures would choose not to do so.

Professor Whitty said, “There have been people who will have made a decision by talking to their GP, that they just didn’t want to be part of it, that the idea of ​​being, for several weeks, completely cut off, at least physically from society, with the exception of absolute basic necessities … that it is not something they wish to do. ”

He added: “And this in particular, for example, could apply to people who have had a terminal diagnosis and who are in palliative care and who are in the final stages, where they would simply make a rational life decision, which was not what they wanted to do. “

Professor Whitty said that the changes to the protection program, in terms of people added or unwilling to participate, were something that “should always happen”.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Welfare said it would release updated armor guidelines later this week.

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