Underlying health conditions

    It's important that everyone takes the social distancing advice seriously. However, some groups are considered to be at higher risk of a severe illness from COVID-19 and should therefore be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. 

    You are considered to be at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if you: 

    There are some clinical conditions which put you at an even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are in this category, NHS England is planning to write to you with additional advice. This advice will, essentially, advise that you isolate yourself from others completely for at 12 weeks from the day you receive your letter. This is called shielding. The 12 week period is a minimum - it may be longer depending on the progression of the disease spread.

    Others in your household don't need to follow this extended self-isolation, but they should be extremely careful to avoid contact with others outside the home. You will be considered to be exceptionally vulnerable if you: 

    • have had a solid organ transplant recipient

    • have one of a specific range of cancers:

      • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer

      • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment

      • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer

      • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors

      • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs

    • have a severe respiratory condition, including all cases of cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD

    • have an inborn error of metabolism or rare disease that significantly increases your risk of infection (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)

    • are on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase your risk of infection

    • are pregnant with a significant heart disease (congenital or acquired)

    If you are required to undertake shielding, you will be asked not to leave your house at all during the period. You should not attend gatherings, including in private spaces such as family homes. Don't go out for shopping, leisure or travel, and when food or medicine is delivered, they should be left at the door. Keep in touch with your family by social media or mobile phone, but do not meet them face-to-face.