The government is said to be mulling over a “more sophisticated model” for shielding, in preparation for winter and to avoid another national lockdown. Part of the plan is to employ a “stiletto not a sledgehammer” approach by pinpointing people who are especially vulnerable to the virus and telling them to remain indoors, a cabinet minister told The Sunday Telegraph.
The newspaper revealed that officials are analysing NHS data on vulnerable groups, such as those who are obese and over the age of 50, in preparation for a possible second wave.
A cabinet minister was quoted as saying: “They are understanding that age does come into it. The shielding cohort is way too broad. You can’t say that every fat person has to shield – it will be more subtle.”
At the start of August, millions of people who were told to shield at the start of the lockdown were able to leave their homes for the first time in four months.
But in the north of England, tighter lockdown restrictions have been introduced in Greater Manchester, parts of Lancashire and West Yorkshire, after transmission rates in those areas increased over recent weeks. Preston is the latest area to impose tougher measures.
The news that obese people may be told to self-isolate follows the launch of the government’s new anti-obesity campaign to get the nation fit and healthy, and to help people protect themselves against the coronavirus.
The “Better Health” campaign is designed to tackle obesity and help people lose weight. Recent figures showed that about two-thirds (63 per cent) of adults in England are overweight or obese, and one in three children leave primary school overweight or obese.
Boris Johnson, who himself is overweight and became ill with Covid-19 in April, led the charge in launching the campaign. He said: “Losing weight is hard, but with some small changes, we can all feel fitter and healthier.
“If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus – as well as taking pressure off the NHS.”