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DPOs call for reinstatement of infection control measures

16 July 2021

A plethora of organisations, including DR UK, is calling on government to revise new guidance which effectively leaves Disabled Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) people without protection once lockdown fully eases on 19 July.

National Voices has written to the Prime Minister to urgently reinstate infection control measures to safeguard the lives of the four million people who are on the CEV list.

Guidance for CEV people has been released which tells them “to continue to take extra precautions to protect themselves. You are advised to follow the practical steps described [in the guidance] to minimise your risk of exposure to the virus.”

It continues: “Guidance on meeting family and friends has been updated, with a greater emphasis on personal responsibility.

“It is important that children attend school for their education, wellbeing, mental health and long-term development. Clinically extremely vulnerable pupils and students should have returned to their school or other educational setting…

“Where parents are concerned about their child’s attendance, they should speak to their child’s school about their concerns and discuss the protective measures that have been put in place to reduce the risk. They should also discuss other measures that can be put in place to ensure their children can regularly attend school.”

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “On the one hand, Government has recognised the clinical vulnerability of four million people, and yet on the other hand, it is telling them to take responsibility for themselves in the pandemic knowing full well that that will, in essence, mean most go back into shielding, but without the protections and support previously offered to them in terms of procurement of food, medicines and other essential supplies, and with levels of isolation detrimental to mental health. Many will be nervous about attending medical appointments too.

“For these four million people, and more, the risk of dying from COVID remains unacceptably high.

“The government’s reckless approach has been roundly criticised by scientists and doctors; it leaves CEV people to fend for themselves, viewing them as being outside of mainstream society.

“They are asked to take precautions, to be cautious, to avoid indoor spaces and not to meet people who haven’t been double vaccinated.

“Surely, in an ongoing pandemic, there should be measures that keep all of us safe.

“The situation for CEV children, who so often lack their own voice in the national conversation, needs special mention. Schools are risky environments for people with low immunity at the best of times. Without government explicitly issuing guidance to schools about how to keep children who shielded safe, parents are put in an impossible position where their instincts to keep their children off school may be pitted against what is legally recognised as truancy, which can land them in court.

“We have concerns about the blanket statement that schools are best placed to ensure their wellbeing, mental health and long-term development. 770,000 school refusing children, if they had a voice in government policy about this, would strongly disagree.”