Wales CMO: Clinically, extremely vulnerable people unlikely to be asked to shield again in the future
Those classed as “clinically, extremely vulnerable” will not be asked to shield at this time, Wales’ chief medical officer (CMO) has confirmed.
In March 2020 around 130,000 people across Wales were advised to take extra precautions and stay indoors until mid-August.
The measures were reintroduced in December during the second wave of the pandemic, before ending at the start of April 2021.
The shielded group are people who are classed as extremely vulnerable to developing serious illness if they contract coronavirus because they have a specific health condition.
In a statement today Health Minister Eluned Morgan announced that advice from CMO Dr Frank Atherton indicated that “despite the rise in numbers of coronavirus in our communities and the lifting of many restrictions in Wales he will not be advising people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to shield at this time.”
The CMO has also indicated that he “does not expect to have to advise ‘shielding’ again in the future, based on current evidence.”
There will be some exceptions – where patients have received specific advice to shield themselves by their own clinician.
This is advice that they are likely to have had to take regardless of the pandemic, they should continue to follow this personalised advice if advised by their clinician.
In a statement, Ms Morgan said: “Despite not reintroducing the advice to follow shielding measures, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales has recognised that some people in this group will feel concerned at seeing the rising number of cases.
“There are people who are particularly vulnerable who may feel concerned about the level of response to the vaccine in their particular cases because of a known weakened immune system.
There may be other people who have been unable to take the vaccine due to their medical condition.
“To provide some reassurance, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales will be writing to all those on the shielding patient list. The letter includes information about vaccine effectiveness and encourages those who have not yet taken up the offer to do so, it also emphasises the importance of receiving both doses.
“In addition to this the letter provides advice on how to minimise personal risk and highlights the measures that the Welsh Government will be retaining as legal requirements at level 0. (The level which the Welsh Government has indicated will be as near to normal as we are likely to reach for a while.)
“Level 0 is expected to start on 7th of August if conditions are favourable. This information has been included to ensure that those who receive news from UK media outlets know that different rules will apply in Wales and there will be more protections here.
“Whilst the Chief Medical Officer for Wales does not expect to have to reintroduce measures again in the future, we are maintaining the shielding patient list at the present time.
The Chief Medical Officers of the four UK nations are keeping the shielding list under review, and it may be possible that in future some conditions or groups may be removed from the shielding list.
“The first group this is likely to impact is children, as there is significant evidence that very few children become extremely unwell or die as a result of coronavirus infection.
“Where inclusion on the list or list status changes, we will write to the individuals affected and inform members, as we have done throughout the pandemic. I continue to appreciate your support in communicating with this group.”
Commenting, Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS, said:
“The Chief Medical Officer’s confidence is encouraging news that shows the vaccine is working and weakening the link between infections and hospitalisations.
“We should remember that shielding can have numerous detrimental effects on those subject to it. It is an extreme safety measure that shouldn’t be deployed unless absolutely necessary.
“This latest statement from the CMO puts us one more step forward on the path to freedom.”
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