As part of the new public health measures put in place by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last night, cocooning will be introduced to protect those over the age of 70 and those who are more vulnerable during the Covid-19 crisis.
Below is some comprehensive information from the Department of Health.
What is Cocooning?
Cocooning is a measure to protect those over 70 years or those extremely medically vulnerable by minimising interaction between them and others. This means that these people should not leave their homes. Even within their homes should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household.
This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from Covid-19 from coming into contact with the virus.
If you are over 70 years of age or have a condition which makes you extremely medically vulnerable you are strongly advised to cocoon, to reduce the chance of getting Covid-19 and follow the face-to-face distancing measures below.
The measures are:
- strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19. These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
- do not leave your house
- do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces for example family homes, weddings and religious services
- do not go out for shopping and, when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact
- keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
- do use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
- ensure you keep phones/devices charged, and have credit on your phone so that you can stay connected
We know that stopping these activities will be difficult. You should try to identify ways of staying in touch with others and participating in your normal activities remotely from your home.
However, you must not participate in alternative activities if they involve any contact with other people.
This advice will be in place for two weeks from 27 March 2020. This period will be kept under review.
What we mean by extremely medically vulnerable*
- people aged 70 years or over
- solid organ transplant recipients
- people with specific cancers:
(a) people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer; (b) people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment; (c) people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer; (d) people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors; (e) people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
- people with severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD
- people with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
- people on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
- women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
*or any essential/key worker advice should be sought from Occupational Health who can give specific advice on individual conditions.
Cocooning is for your personal protection and if you are unsure whether or not you fall into one of the categories of extremely medically vulnerable people listed above, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician.
All other people should stringently follow public health guidance on physical distancing.
What you need to know
If you are over 70 years of age or have an underlying medical condition listed above, you are at very high risk of severe illness as a result of Covid-19.
Cocooning is a practice used to protect those over 70 or those extremely medically vulnerable people from coming into contact with COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
You are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of 2 weeks from today (27 March). This period is being kept under review.
Visits from people who provide essential support to you such as healthcare, personal support with your daily needs or social care should continue, but carers and care workers must stay away if they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19. They may find this guidance for Health and Social care workers who visit homes useful. All people coming to your home should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds on arrival to your house and often whilst they are there.
You should have an alternative list of people who can help you with your care if your main carer becomes unwell.
If you have someone else living with you, they are not required to adopt these protective cocooning measures for themselves. They should do what they can to support you in cocooning and they should stringently follow guidance on physical distancing, reducing their contact outside the home. They should wash their hands thoroughly and regularly, especially upon arrival home and observe good respiratory etiquette at all times.
If you care for but don’t actually live with someone who is extremely medically vulnerable you should still stringently follow the public health guidance on physical distancing.
The Department of Health have provided a lengthy and comprehensive publication of advice in relation to cocooning on the gov.ie website, which gives tips on the following:
- What you should do if you have someone else living with you
- Handwashing and respiratory hygiene
- What you should do if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
- How you can get assistance with foods and medicines if you are cocooning
- What you should do if you have hospital and GP appointments during this period
- Advice for visitors, including those who are providing care for you
- How to look after your mental wellbeing
- Steps you can take to stay connected with family and friends during this time
- Advice for people living in long-term care facilities, either for the elderly or persons with special needs
- Background and scope of guidance