Tuesday 21st April 2020

We’ve compiled the answers to some common questions about shielding, social distancing and self-isolating. Remember, talk to your specialist if you have any specific worries. You can also chat to your GP. And remember, gov.uk/coronavirus is always up to date with the latest coronavirus information.

What is shielding?

Shielding is for people in a vulnerable group, such as young people with cancer going through certain types of treatment. If you’re in a vulnerable group, you should now have received a letter from the NHS explaining what you need to do.

  • If you’re shielding, you shouldn’t leave the house or see anyone other than those in your household for 12 weeks
  • You should strictly avoid anyone, including those in your household, with symptoms
  • You should ask someone else to bring you food shopping and medication and leave it on your doorstep
  • You should still go to vital medical treatments, and rearrange some appointments to be on the phone, if possible
  • Washing hands regularly for at least 20 seconds is also really important when you’re shielding.

You can find more information about shielding in our One Cancer Voice guidance: https://www.teenagecancertrust.org/get-help/coronavirus

What is social distancing?

Social distancing means keeping a distance between yourself and other people outside of your household. To follow social distancing rules, you need to:

  • Stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) from other people
  • Stay at home at all times, if possible
  • Avoid crowded places.

What is self-isolating?

Self-isolation is for people with symptoms – a temperature and/or a persistent cough – or those living with someone with symptoms.

If you have to self-isolate, you should:

  • Not leave the house for 7 days, or 14 days if you live with someone with symptoms
  • Ask someone else to bring you food shopping and medication and leave it on your doorstep
  • Stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) from other people in your house, and use other bedrooms, bathrooms, cutlery and towels if possible
  • Wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.

Why practice social distancing, self-isolating or shielding?

Coronavirus is spread mostly by people who are in close contact. The virus spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets enter the air and enter the mouths or noses of people nearby. You can be infected without showing symptoms, so social distancing is vital in slowing the spread.

It may be possible that a person can get the virus by touching a surface or object that has been touched by an infected person and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.

Vulnerable groups, such as young people with cancer going through certain types of treatment, are particularly at risk from serious complications from coronavirus, so it’s especially important to observe shielding and social distancing guidelines.

Tips for social distancing and shielding:

  • Always follow government guidance.
  • If you’re shielding, ask someone else to bring you food shopping and medication and leave it on your doorstep.
  • You can also use online grocery delivery services.
  • If you have to go out in public, cover your mouth and nose when near others.
  • Stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) from others, even when your nose and mouth are covered.
  • Avoid all gatherings. This applies to all ages.
  • Work from home if possible.
  • Avoid using public transport like buses or trains.
  • Stay connected with friends and family by phone, video chat or on social media.

All the info you need is regularly updated at gov.uk/coronavirus

Worried about accessing your cancer treatment during coronavirus?

You can:

  • Rest assured that cancer treatment is currently still being provided. Any changes to your care will be discussed with you and will only happen to keep you safe.
  • Go to your treatment sessions as scheduled, unless you’re told not to. Practice social distancing on the way and once you’re there, and wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.
  • Arrange appointments via phone where possible.
  • Chat to your doctor or health professional about anything you’re worried about.