Department of Health’s letter in partnership with NHS, Ipsos MORI and Imperial College gives advice directly contradicting official ‘self-isolate’ order for those with possible coronavirus infection
A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) leaflet has been sent out with coronavirus testing kits giving dangerous advice to those who think they might be infected with the virus.
The kits, sent out as part of a study to people with suspected infections, are accompanied by a letter signed by polling company Ipsos MORI but bearing a prominent DHSC logo – and by a leaflet giving “GUIDANCE FOR HOUSEHOLDS WITH POSSIBLE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) INFECTION” (emphasis added).
But although that guidance comes under a header of ‘Stay at home’, it tells people with possible infection that ‘staying at home’ means going to work if they cannot work from home – and to go out for food or health reasons, as long as they stay two metres apart from other people and wash their hands when they get home.
It gives this advice even though it also reminds sufferers that they can infect others even if they don’t have symptoms:
As the government has previously acknowledged, a two-metre distance does not guarantee that infection will not be spread – it is simply a distance that they believe lowers the statistical probability of infection enough to reduce the load on the NHS. However, indoors the virus has been shown to be able to spread over considerably larger distances, for example in this study of a cluster arising from a single meal at a restaurant in China:
The government’s official advice for households with potential coronavirus infection has not changed. Those who think they might be infected must still stay at home – seven days for the first person manifesting symptoms and fourteen days for other members of the household, to allow time for any further infections to show beyond the incubation period of the virus, then longer still if those other members show symptoms. The only exception is for vulnerable members, who can go to stay with friends or family if available.
And the official advice is explicit that people in self-isolation must not go out ‘for health reasons’ unless their symptoms become so serious that they need hospital treatment:
-if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms:
– do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
– you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home
– testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) is not needed if you’re staying at home
– if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus (COVID-19) service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999
The DHSC has been contacted for comment, but has not yet confirmed how many people received kits with this leaflet. However, any study would need a wide base of subjects – so the number of people being given this dangerous advice is likely to be in the thousands and possibly in the tens of thousands. Further clarification and/or comment are awaited from DHSC.
Ipsos MORI’s press office did not answer calls.
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