Scotland

Coronavirus: Shielding put on 'pause' in Scotland

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Image caption Special advice for those who have been shielding has ended

Shielding has been paused in Scotland for people considered more vulnerable to Covid-19.

Since 24 July, those in the shielding category have been able to shop and meet others indoors.

They can now follow the same general advice as the rest of the population.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said those who had been shielding should be "especially careful" about using face masks, hand hygiene and physical distancing.

The shielding group in Scotland has covered those at greatest risk of becoming seriously ill or dying if they become infected with Covid-19.

It included those who have had solid organ transplants, certain cancers and people with severe respiratory conditions.

Although levels of the coronavirus infection are much lower in Scotland than they were at the peak of the crisis, new cases are being found each day.

On Friday it was announced that 30 people had tested positive in the previous 24 hours, the highest daily figure for eight weeks.

'Just knowing I was home and safe was enough for me'

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Media captionKirsty Young has been shielding for the past four months

Music teacher Kirsty Young, who will soon be starting a new job at a school in Falkirk, has been shielding for four months because she has cystic fibrosis which put her in the most vulnerable group.

"I certainly didn't expect to be stuck at home for as long as I was," she said.

"Just knowing that I was home and safe was enough for me to find comfort in the fact that I was in my own house."

Kirsty said she thought the changes being made to bring people out of shielding would have happened more gradually.

"Fortunately, in the guidelines there still has always been that flexibility of choice - no-one told me I had to go to a beer garden," she said.

"But now that the changes are much, much bigger, that choice has been taken away from me because I'm now expected to start doing life the way everyone else is which has made me quite apprehensive."

She started venturing out a few days ago after the Scottish government eased the rules for those shielding.

"It's difficult to always trust that the decisions are right given that the cost could be quite catastrophic," she said. "But I knew that if I didn't start pushing myself out into situations where I'm maybe not as comfortable then I didn't know if would ever integrate back in - certainly this side of Christmas.

"It was really important that I started gaining some confidence back out amongst the public."

Kirsty now has the added concern of starting a new job where people do not know she has been shielding.

"It's a mix of emotions, she said. "I'm very excited but also apprehensive about being a vulnerable person going back into school."

'Speak to employer'

Jamie White, head of policy and public affairs at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said: "New changes to shielding are welcome for many but for others, it raises concerns about how to resume normal, daily life safely - particularly with work and education.

"The government has specifically asked employers to be mindful of the necessary working arrangements for those who have been shielding.

"People with cystic fibrosis will need to speak to their employer before they go back to ensure appropriate measures are in place and should be able to work from home wherever possible."

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