Over 20,000 'vulnerable' after Covid rule changes

Over 20,000 people in Northumberland are vulnerable because of the ending of coronavirus rules, charities have warned.
21,000 vulnerable to Covid rule changes21,000 vulnerable to Covid rule changes
21,000 vulnerable to Covid rule changes

NHS Digital figures show 8,320 patients in Sunderland were classed as clinically extremely vulnerable in April 2020 but, by the time the shielding programme came to an end on September last year, this had risen to 12,595, following an expansion of those deemed to be ‘at risk’.

Of those 25% were people aged between 70 and 79 – the largest proportion of all age groups – and others include those with respiratory conditions and people with genetic metabolic and autoimmune diseases.

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They are among 3.7 million people in England classed as "vulnerable".

Since Thursday, all coronavirus laws in England – including the legal requirement for people who test positive to isolate – came to an end.

A group representing vulnerable families said a lack of guidance from the Government is a concern those formerly advised to shield to avoid the risk of Covid infection.

Lara Wong, founder of the Clinically Vulnerable Families Support Group, said: "The removal of protections means that the risk of catching Covid will increase."

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She called on non-vulnerable people to continue to wear masks and isolate when needed.

Disability charity Scope said many disabled people will feel forgotten by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's strategy, which also includes plans to scrap free universal testing in April.

The Department of Health and Social Care said it recognises the importance of ensuring people at higher risk from Covid-19 receive the right advice.