Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on Friday launched a new guidance for adult social care to better protect the most vulnerable against the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The guidance issued to councils and care providers aims to ensure older people and those with pre-existing conditions and care needs who receive support are best protected against the virus.

As elderly people and those with underlying health conditions are considered more vulnerable to the virus, the advise sets out who should visit those in care and what to do if a positive case is identified or if someone displays symptoms.

The guidance follows a change in government’s coronavirus strategy to the so-called ‘delay’ phase, aimed at putting off the peak until the summer months, ending a phase of outright containment.

“Public safety is my top priority and we are clear people in care should follow the same tried and tested protocols everyone else is following,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said. “These include good hand hygiene and self-isolating where necessary, allowing our fantastic care workforce to keep them well.”

Hancock said the government is working closely with the social care sector to ensure prompt action to protect those in care.

Councils are entrusted to map out all care and support plans to prioritise people who are at the highest risk and contact all registered providers in their local area to facilitate plans for mutual aid.

“Councils’ adult social care teams are a vital part of how, as a nation, we can best respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19. In such a fast-moving environment, timely guidance and advice is essential and this latest publication will help answer and clarify some of the questions councils and their provider partners have,” said Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board.

As of 9am on Friday today, 32,771 people have been tested in the UK for the virus, of which 798 were confirmed as positive. The death toll climbed to 11 as Scotland reported its first fatality later in the day.

Care Minister Helen Whately said: “We recognise that we are entering an incredibly challenging time for people living and working in care and we are working closely with industry experts to do everything we can to limit the impact that COVID-19 has on the most vulnerable.”

“This guidance is an important part of that work. Its aim is to help the NHS, local government and care providers to work together to take the best steps to protect those most at risk.”

DHSC said it will continually review the guidance as the government’s action plan develops, adding that it will issue further guidance to help protect elderly and vulnerable groups.

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