Coronavirus total isolation ‘must be extended to over-50s as well as over-70s – as they face very high risk of death’ – The Sun

MILLIONS of Brits in their fifties and sixties are facing a high risk of death from coronavirus and should be isolating like older people, experts are warning.

Currently, the Government says the most vulnerable age group during the pandemic are those over 70 and that they should be self isolating.

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However, scientists are now warning that people aged 50 to 69 are also at an increased risk of becoming severely ill or dying from coronavirus.

It comes as over half of those in critical care with Covid-19 in Britain fall into that age bracket.

Scientist Mike Fischer, who runs a medical research lab in Oxford called Systems Biology Laboratory, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning: "The numbers show the 50 to 69s have as much reason to be as diligent and disciplined and make sacrifices to isolate themselves now as the over 70s.

"Over half of the people admitted to critical care in Britain are in the 50 to 69 category – more than twice as many as have been admitted to critical care in the over 70s.

"So if you want to reduce the load on NHS beds in a few weeks time, the actions of the 50 to 69s are the critical factor."

Critical factor

And the Oxford University physics graduate added that if people in this age group are overweight or have an underlying health condition they should be even more diligent.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) class people over 60 and 65 respectively as being at highest risk.

However, scientists are now suggesting the official advice should be changed – so total isolation is extended to over-50s.

"I think it would be a wise personal choice given the fact of the people who have left critical care in that 50 to 69 age group – 51 per cent have died, so you're not just protecting the NHS you're also protecting yourself," Mr Fischer said.

A new paper, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, highlights that 85 per cent of deaths from Covid-19 are in people over 65.


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In the UK, about 52.8 per cent of those aged 65-74 have two or more conditions, making them more vulnerable.

“Patients requiring critical care, such as respiratory support, are usually older with a median age of 60 years,” the authors said.

They added that increasing the threshold for isolation to the over-60s could reduce pressure on the NHS.

Professor Majeed, who co-authored the paper with colleagues and academics from Exeter University, said: “The UK’s policy is at variance with the World Health Organisation, which states that those above the age of 60 years are at the highest risk, requiring additional preventative measures.”

Medics say people in this age group's bodies are less able to fight Covid-19 because our immune systems weaken with age.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient Access, told The Sun: "We know that as you get older, your immune system becomes less efficient – that’s why older people are at higher risk of serious complications of coronavirus infection.

Serious complications

"If your immune system isn’t strong, it’s more likely that the virus can multiply deep inside your lung, causing inflammation and scarring.

"Your immune system will try and fight it off, and will often destroy healthy lung tissue in the process.

"This makes you more prone to get ‘secondary’ infections like pneumococcal pneumonia."

Andrew Freedman, a reader in infectious diseases at Cardiff University School of Medicine, told The Times that the study “raises the question of whether healthcare workers in that age group should be shielded from frontline care of patients with Covid-19” in light of the call for retired doctors and nurses to return to work.

Nick Phin, deputy director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, said: “England data shows that the groups most likely to die from Covid-19 are men and those over the age of 70.”

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Health bosses say the best way to protect yourself and others is to wash your hands with soap and water for the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.

Happy Birthday takes about 20 seconds to sing twice and is said to be the perfect number to clean your hands to thoroughly.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

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