VULNERABLE residents shielding from Covid-19 in Northwich and Winsford have told the Guardian they will not be leaving home yet despite easing of lockdown restrictions.

It comes as a leading Cheshire West doctor is telling shielding residents 'if in doubt, stay at home' as the borough continues to see new confirmed cases of coronavirus.

England's 2.2 million people on the shielding list include cancer patients, organ transplant recipients and people in long-term care facilities.

Since Monday, they have been able to leave home once a day with someone they live with or one person from another household if they live alone, provided social distancing is maintained.

But Northwich and Winsford residents have spoken out on the Guardian's Facebook page, fearing it is too soon to leave home and questioning the change in Government policy.

Amanda Eddleston is in the ninth week of shielding her son from the coronavirus.

"This is literally the first I’ve heard about being able to leave the house," she said.

"The government have been texting me regularly with updates but nothing about this. Even if they had communicated it properly I would still feel very very apprehensive about going out."

Jane Butcher is in a similar position.

She said: "My son and I are in week 12, we’re going nowhere for the foreseeable future."

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Leaann Fitzpatrick added: "I’ve been shielded since March 9. I got a further letter stating another 12 weeks only three weeks ago, I definitely will continue to shield as this feel too soon.

"Also why from May 28 being told we may have to shield until a vaccine is ready, to May 30 'you can go out'. What changed in such a short time frame? This whole situation is so scary."

Some readers admitted that shielding from the virus has been a struggle, either through missing loved ones or for young children, but still felt cautious about Covid-19.

Lisa Marie Ashley said: "My three-year-old is classed as vulnerable. He has two more weeks until he can go out but I'm still really scared of him catching this horrible disease.

"It's so hard for young children because they don't understand. It's so horrible."

Sally Jones added: "I have been on lockdown now for 10 weeks, still got two more weeks to go.

"I'm classed as vulnerable and I am scared of going out for the first time. I have really been missing all my family so much."

Despite the Government's decision to ease restrictions, residents across Northwich and Winsford are being urged to be cautious if they are vulnerable to the virus.

It comes as the latest Public Health England figures show 1,145 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the borough as of 9am on Monday, an increase of 58 over a week.

Dr Chris Ritchieson, medical director for Cheshire West integrated care partnership, said: "Although the Government guidance for shielded patients has been relaxed slightly, we know that there continue to be a number of new cases of Covid-19 in the community, both locally and nationally.

Northwich Guardian:

"As such it is important for us all to remain cautious and to stay at home where possible.

"I’m sure many people who have been shielding throughout lockdown will continue to isolate for the time being, as this – combined with social distancing and adhering to hygiene advice – is the safest way of protecting yourself from Covid-19. If in doubt, stay at home."

However, charities have warned that the shielding policy has been damaging to people's mental health, as they have been stuck unable to see loved ones for so long.

Speaking ahead of the Government's announcement at the weekend, Steven McIntosh, policy director at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Macmillan is hearing from people who feel left behind and forgotten, who got a letter at the start of March telling them to stay in total lockdown, not to leave the house, not to see anyone, to protect themselves.

“They feel there has been a huge lack of communication to help them understand what lockdown means for them.”

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