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COVID-19 What is the "Delay Phase"?

Posted on Friday, 13 March 2020 9:07 am | Category: Coronavirus The Government has announced that the UK has entered the "Delay Phase", what is it and how does it affect you?

Last night the Prime Minister announced updated guidance, as the country officially enters the delay phase of the Government's action plan to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. This is where the focus shifts from attempting to contain the spread of the disease to slowing down its impact to allow the NHS time to cope with cases and to reduce the impact of large numbers of people not being able to work.

For older people there are extra risks due to age and other underlying health conditions so it's important that we all take sensible measures to reduce the risk. There is also another risk that self-isolation could cause older people to suffer from increased loneliness and isolation so we've included some handy tips for how you can look out for others at this time.


One of the big headline announcements is a change in guidance surrounding self-isolation. If you develop a new and persistent cough for up to four hours and a temperature of 37.8C and above, you should self-isolate for seven days. These are considered to be mild symptoms and you should not ring 111 at this stage unless your condition dramatically worsens. People displaying mild symptoms will no longer be tested, instead, those with the most serious symptoms will be tested at a hospital and the NHS will be switching focus to dealing with only the worst affected. This action is thought to be an effective way of reducing the peak number of cases by up to 20%.

Mass Gatherings

The UK Government has taken a slightly different approach to other countries based on advice they've been given and believes that banning large gatherings is one of the least effective means of delaying the spread of COVID-19. The virus is just as likely to spread within a smaller group as it would in a large crowd such as at a pub or other small gathering. Scotland, however, has banned events of more than 500 people from Monday 16th March to help free up emergency services.

What does it mean for older people?

Older people are at greater risk from COVID-19, most people will experience five days of a viral illness but in the elderly and those with underlying health issues it may cause a far more serious immune response. Residential and day centres and care homes are currently making their own decisions based on Government advice and the response will vary from centre to centre, so it's important to check what the procedures are before and during the visit.

What can I do to help?

The best way to reduce the risk of transmission is to make sure that you are following good hygiene practices.

- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
- Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are unavailable
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- Try to avoid contact with people who are unwell

- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands aren't clean

If you're worried about someone who's been told to self-isolate or is worried about going out or would prefer not to, there are still plenty of ways to help them.
- Stay in touch with a regular phone call, a letter or if they're happy to and you've taken adequate precautions by popping round for a chat.
- See if they need any shopping or errands running. (You could always leave shopping on the doorstep and call them to let them know its there.)
- Encourage people to stay active around the house and keep moving with some gentle exercises.

We have more information at the following pages:
Coronavirus - a handy guide
Simple steps to reducing your risk of catching COVID-19



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