More people in Warrington are being asked to shield against coronavirus following the development of a new national COVID risk assessment. 

Using evidence gathered through many months of research, the assessment tool has identified new groups of people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus.

People who have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable will shortly receive a letter from NHS England telling them to begin shielding until at least 31 March. People who are already shielding will also receive an updated letter from the NHS telling them to extend shielding to 31 March.

The new risk assessment has used technology to identify an additional group of people who could be at high risk from becoming very unwell if they catch coronavirus. This technology, known as ‘QCovid’, uses a range of factors including age, ethnicity, body mass index (BMI) and medical conditions to identify individuals who should begin shielding immediately.

Those affected will be fast-tracked for vaccination

Up to 1.7 million additional people have been identified using this methodology. Those within this group who are over 70 will have already been invited for a vaccination, meaning that just over 800,000 adults between 19 and 69 years will now be fast-tracked for a vaccination and will be contacted as soon as possible for a vaccine, if they have not already been invited.

People who have been identified in this new shielded cohort do not need to proactively contact their GP to arrange a vaccine, but residents are advised that if they have any questions about being classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, that they discuss this with their GP in the first instance.

Stay at home wherever possible

Although everyone should be continuing to follow the national restrictions and staying at home wherever possible, those on the shielded patient list must take additional care and caution if they do need to leave their homes. The NHS letter they receive advising them to shield can be used as evidence to employers, and residents who are shielding are advised to do all they can to avoid leaving their homes, given the additional risk of severe illness to them.

Cabinet member for public health, Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, said: “This new national risk assessment will be identifying many more people in Warrington who ought to begin shielding immediately. Although shielding isn’t mandatory, it is so very important that those at additional risk of becoming very ill, or even dying, if they get coronavirus should take all the necessary steps to remain at home.

“Those who have been identified as being required to shield will be prioritised for the vaccine, so hope is on the horizon. In the meantim­e, however, please remain extra cautious. This means speaking to your employer about the steps they can take to support you to work from home, ordering food online rather than going to the shops, and generally doing whatever you can to stay safe at home.

“Separate to the NHS letter they will receive, the council will also be writing to affected residents in this new cohort to detail the local support available that we and our partners can provide. If you have any questions about why you have been added to the shielded patient list, please speak to your GP.”

For the latest information about shielding, please visit the shielding guidance page.