A further 1.7million people in England are being told to shield from coronavirus and everyone on the vulnerable list is being urged to stay at home until at least March 31.
Officials said the list — first drafted almost a year ago — was being almost doubled after No10’s scientific advisers identified additional adults at serious risk of Covid-19.
The Department of Health did not say who would be added, but the update will look at risk factors including age, weight, ethnicity and deprivation – rather than just underlying conditions. It comes after the National Audit Office revealed last week hundreds of thousands of vulnerable patients were not told to shield due to out-of-date records.
Today’s announcement pours cold water on hopes lockdown could start to be eased next month, suggesting medics do not think it will be safe. This is despite the Government smashing its target of vaccinating 15million of the most vulnerable by February 15.
There had been hopes that, once those most at risk were jabbed and developed immunity several weeks later, that the most draconian curbs could be lifted.