02 December 2020
Islanders who are at high risk of severe illness if infected with COVID-19 are being advised to take extra measures to protect themselves against the virus. The advice, which comes into effect immediately, is aimed at Islanders who are classified as high risk.
Islanders who are classed as being at high risk include people with severe respiratory conditions, people with certain types of cancers, those who have received a solid organ transplant and a number of other conditions. These Islanders will have received a letter from the GP earlier this year, informing them that they are at high risk.
The guidance being issued today also adds other groups of people to the high risk category. People over the age of 70, people with Down’s Syndrome, and people who have stage 5 kidney disease, or who are undergoing kidney dialysis are now classed as high risk.
The updated guidance for Islanders at high risk includes recommendations to:
- Work from home wherever possible. People at high risk are advised against going out to work unless they work alone, and can avoid public transport.
- Avoid indoor activities which take place outside their home. Where they are considering these activities, they should weigh up the benefits and risks of these activities.
- Choose a small number of family or friends, where needed, from outside of their household, that they choose not to maintain physical distancing with. This should be the same, small consistent group.
- Maintain a 2m distance from people outside their household wherever possible, other than this small consistent group.
- Avoid visits to other people’s homes, and limit having visitors into their own home, unless it is for delivering care or other essential services, or it is within the small consistent number of chosen friends or family.
The parents or guardians of children and young people who are classed as high risk should seek advice from their specialist doctor or care provider to determine whether they should currently attend school. The risks for children are likely to be lower, and the benefits of attending school likely to outweigh the risks for this group, providing all public health advice can be followed.
Islanders at high risk can still attend social activities outdoors, as these activities are lower risk. However, they should continue to maintain a 2m distance from those outside their household, unless with the small number of chosen family or friends outside of their household.
Islanders at high risk who will see a loss of earnings if they follow the guidance can apply for financial support through the Connect Me service. This service offers support around other practical needs, such as with having shopping delivered, as well as with mental health and wellbeing, and how to stay active and connected with others.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, said: “Since we confirmed the first case of COVID-19 back in March this year, our priority has always been to protect the most vulnerable people in the Island.
This new guidance will protect Islanders at high risk if followed but may impact their daily routine. However, it is not advising this group to isolate or go into full ‘shielding’.
"We are encouraging these Islanders to enjoy outdoor activities with a small group of close friends and/or family, and to stay connected, but to also avoid indoor activities wherever possible.”
Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat, said: “We are introducing these measures in response to the way the virus is moving through the Island, and how it is being transmitted.
“There are certain conditions which will make an individual more likely to develop severe illness if infected with COVID-19. And the older you are, the higher the risk also, which is why we have added those over the age of 70 to the high risk category”