Coronavirus: Over-70s to be asked to self-isolate for up to four months

Elderly woman washes hand in bathroom

People over the age of 70 will be asked to stay at home for up to four months to protect themselves from contracting coronavirus, the Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, has said.

In an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Hancock said over-70s will be asked to self-isolate “within weeks”.

When asked by Home Care Insight (HCI) what this will mean for elderly people receiving care at home, the Department of Health and Social Care said it could provide “no further comment” and directed our readers to updated guidance issued on Friday.

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The guidance states that the risk of transmission should be minimised through safe working procedures and that home care providers will routinely be procuring personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, surgical masks and aprons.

Hancock said the protection of the vulnerable and elderly by asking them to stay at home is in the government’s action plan, but acknowledged that it is a “big ask” and that it could have “negative impacts”.

HCI has contacted home care providers to share their thoughts on how the plans for self-isolation will impact the psychological well-being of over-70s.

In the Marr interview, the Health and Social Care Secretary was asked whether friends and neighbours of elderly people showing symptoms of coronavirus should go in to help them.

Hancock replied: “If you are healthy, then please go and help them. There are ways that you can help without yourself getting infected because the infection comes if you’re within two metres of somebody.

“But making sure that they are ok, making sure that they’ve got the food they need, for instance, if they can’t go out shopping…these things are critical and you can do that without risking infection yourself.”

In a separate statement, Hancock said he is preparing to call up an army of 3 million volunteers to reinforce the NHS and social care sector as they fight the coronavirus outbreak.

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Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke

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