The latest figures come as a member of the Government’s scientific advisory group, Sage, warned against treating age groups differently when easing lockdown measures. Sir Jeremy Farrar said he did not support giving different rules to the over-70s, considered a clinically vulnerable group by the Government.
It comes after NHS England’s national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said on Friday that officials will be studying whether stricter measures will have to continue to apply to the elderly when restrictions are relaxed.
Sir Jeremy, also director of the Wellcome Trust research charity, has warned that this risks treating some members of society differently to others.
“I think isolating certain groups and saying you are different from the rest of society is a very difficult message to give,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “I personally would not be in favour of that.”
He said people in high-risk groups, which includes certain ages, should take “special precautions”, but added: “I would not be in favour of isolating certain age groups and saying: ‘You’re special and you’re different and you need to act differently.'”
Meanwhile, Mr Hancock dismissed reports that all people over 70 face a “blanket ban”. On Twitter, he wrote: “We have strongly advised all over-70s to follow social distancing measures. However, there is no ‘blanket ban’, and the suggestion that the clinically vulnerable include ‘people aged 70 or older regardless of medical conditions’ is wrong and deeply misleading.”
The Government website says that people aged over 70 are “clinically vulnerable” regardless of medical conditions and are advised to “take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household”.
A further group considered clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus due to specific serious health conditions are advised to stay at home and avoid all contact with others, except for essential medical treatment or support.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the over-70s “are not included in the most at-risk group (extremely clinically vulnerable), who have been told to isolate for 12 weeks”.