Elderly people and people with serious health conditions are particularly vulnerable if they catch coronavirus. The Government has now advised that by the weekend, people over the age of 70 or with serious underlying health conditions will be asked to stay at home for 12 weeks.
The measure is intended to help prevent older people from catching and spreading coronavirus.
Symptoms of the virus have been updated by the NHS and now include a fever and a new, continuous cough.
The Government announced a number of ‘social distancing’ measures on Monday, including advice that people should work from home if possible.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people should now avoid all ‘non-essential contact’.
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The Government has also advised people should be avoiding public gatherings such as pubs, clubs and theatres.
Mr Johnson said: “Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel.
“We need people to start working from home where they possibly can.
“And you should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.”
How can I look after my older relatives?
The latest advice on social distancing means people should be reducing the amount of contact they spend with each other.
However, it is still possible to look out for older relatives at this time.
The latest Government advice means all “unnecessary” visits to friends and relatives in care homes should cease.
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Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, told the BBC that if you are visiting an elderly relative for an essential purpose, you should “keep a bit more distance, preferably at least 1m [3ft] apart”.
She added there should be “no kissing and hugging, sadly, and those hand hygiene practices are incredibly important”.
It is important to follow the current advice on hand-washing, using sanitisers and other NHS advice on preventing the spread of the virus.
Age UK has issued some advice on the current coronavirus outbreak on its website.
If you are worried about an older person, the Age UK website reads: “If you care for someone who has a new, continuous cough or a high temperature it’s important that they stay at home for 7 days.
“We would advise carers to call 111 for specific advice and it may be a good idea to contact your GP too.
“You can find more information for carers here.
“If someone’s been advised to self-isolate, is very worried about going out or decides they’d prefer not to, there are still plenty of things you can do to help:
Stay in touch over the phone, by post or online.
See if people need any shopping or help by running some errands.
Encourage people to stay active around the house and keep moving.”
It is also important to think of “practical” ways to help older relatives, such as running errands on their behalf, or picking up supplies such as food and medication.
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