A new “risk model” based on factors such as underlying health conditions, age, sex and weight will receive letters containing specific advice. The plan is initially due to operate in areas with severe levels of infection, but officials are prepared to roll it out nationwide if required, reports suggest. A DHSC spokeswoman said of the plans: “We keep all aspects of our response to the pandemic under review and in line with the advice of our scientific and medical experts. Shielding for the clinically extremely vulnerable has been paused since the start of August in most of the country while average rates of coronavirus remain low.
“Shielding is still advised in specific areas of the country where prevalence of the virus is higher.”
At the same time, concerns have grown over an increase in Covid-19 cases in care homes, prompting the Government to send an alert to care providers to highlight the rising rates and to call for action.
The letter, sent on Friday, urges care bosses to “take the necessary action to prevent and limit outbreaks”, pointing out that in the last three days there had been an increase in notifications of coronavirus cases in care homes.
At the moment it is the workforce that is most affected, but the letter says that “clearly” there is a risk that the virus will spread to residents and in some cases already has.
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8am update: Everyone should be tested for COVID-19, says Blair
People without coronavirus symptoms should be tested for the disease, even if the results are not “fully accurate”, former prime minister Tony Blair has insisted.
Mr Blair said that as the “largest part” of those who contract COVID-19 do not display symptoms of the virus, it was “sensible” for testing to be made more widely available.
Back in June, the former Labour leader had called for a mass coronavirus testing regime to be adopted, arguing this could help keep the disease in check.
He has now called on the UK to ensure it is using all its available capacity for tests.