Some 1.7 mln people added to England COVID-19 shielding list

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LONDON, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) — About 1.7 million people will be added to the shielding list in England after being considered to be at potential serious risk from coronavirus, British health authorities announced Tuesday.

The latest development came after scientists at Oxford University developed a new tool that assesses whether someone is at risk of severe disease or death from COVID-19. Multiple factors were considered including age, ethnicity, body mass index and other health conditions.

Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, said those joining the shielding list will get the same support available to those who are “clinically extremely vulnerable”, including medicine deliveries, priority slots for supermarkets and statutory sick pay.

“As we learn more about COVID-19, we’re continuously reviewing the evidence…it was very clear that not all of those individuals who were at risk were identified by the binary approach,” she told reporters at a briefing.

“What it does also do — which I hope will benefit them, which is why people will hopefully be grateful to receive this — is it will prioritize them for vaccination,” she said.

The additional 1.7 million brings the number of people on the list to almost 4 million, all of whom are being advised to shield until March 31.

England is currently under the third national lockdown since outbreak of the pandemic in the country. Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to unveil a roadmap for exiting the lockdown on Feb. 22.

Britain has hit its target to complete the vaccination of the top priority groups, which cover 15 million people, by mid-February. More than 15.3 million people in Britain have been given the first jab of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest official figures.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has said the British government would “not rest” until the vaccine was offered to all over-50s by the end of April. Britain aims to offer all adults their first dose by autumn.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines. Enditem

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