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We have to differentiate between those who are shielding and the vulnerable groups that we are asking to adhere to the guidance that the general population is asked to adhere to, which includes washing hands frequently, staying at home and not socialising with people who are not part of one’s household.
The research so far shows that mortality from the disease is higher for the over-70s and that a large proportion of those suffering from the disease are in that age group, even when pre-existing conditions are taken into account. Although the risk is hard to quantify, we know that diseases that make people immunosuppressed, obesity and respiratory diseases all worsen outcomes.
We know that age matters with this infection, which is why we have taken the precautionary step of asking the over-70s to be particularly careful about physical distancing, hand washing and not mixing with other households.
I appreciate that this is a difficult time for everyone, and particularly for those of an older generation. My parents are in that age group and they find it really difficult not being able to spend time with their children and grandchildren. However, this is about protecting and saving lives and keeping our national health service safe.