Over-70s to be asked to self-isolate for up to four months, Health Secretary confirms

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Over-70s will be asked to self-isolate for up to four months as part of the government’s latest plan to tackle the growing coronavirus crisis, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed this morning.

It’s part of a series of measures being prepared by Hancock, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance to prevent the NHS from “falling over”.

Hancock said the UK’s plan to tackle COVID-19 will involve asking older people to self-isolate for up to four months for their own “self-protection”.

Asked if asking those aged over 70 to self-isolate for up to four months was in the government’s plan, he said: “That is in the action plan, yes.

“And we will be setting it out with more detail when it is the right time to do so because we absolutely appreciate that it is a very big ask of the elderly and the vulnerable, and it’s for their own self-protection.”

Pressed on when the measure will be introduced, he said: “Certainly in the coming weeks, absolutely.”

Saying it was a “very big ask”, he added: “The measures that we’re looking at taking are very, very significant and they will disrupt the ordinary lives of almost everybody in the country in order to tackle this virus.”

He reiterated on The Andrew Marr Show that anyone with any kind of symptom, no matter how mild, “must” stay at home and self-isolate.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Hancock insisted the government had a “clear action plan, listening to the best science”.

He added: “Our generation has never been tested like this. Our grandparents were, during the Second World War, when our cities were bombed during the Blitz.

“Everyone will be asked to make sacrifices, to protect themselves and others, especially those most vulnerable to this disease.”

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