Coronavirus shielders: ‘The virus is still out there’
Jun. 03, 2020
Scotland has had its first taste of post-lockdown life, as restrictions were eased slightly at the weekend, but for more than 100,000 of the country's most vulnerable, nothing has changed.
In England and Wales people who have been "shielding" for health reasons since the coronavirus lockdown began have been advised they can go outdoors again as long they follow certain rules.
However, in Scotland the advice has not yet changed.
Coronavirus: Who should be shielding?
While parks and public areas are busier than they have been in months, "shielders" are still in lockdown, still at risk from the disease and still waiting for what comes next.
MARGARET and CHARLOTTE
Image caption Margaret, left, and Charlotte have been shielding for 10 weeks
Because of their age, Charlotte Levy, 83, and her 84-year-old neighbour Margaret Woods have been shielding since the beginning of the outbreak 10 weeks ago.
They live in a retirement complex run by Thenue Housing in Calton in the east end of Glasgow.
Both have found it difficult to stay indoors during the hot weather, meeting with friends and neighbours in the shared gardens of the estate.
Charlotte told BBC Scotland's The Nine: "It's been hard but the fact that we can stay outside our doors and are still able to talk to each other, we are lucky in the sense we can do that.
"If we were stuck in the house for 10 weeks, it would be very lonely, I wouldn't like to be that position."
Margaret and Charlotte said they have been delivered food parcels by local community groups while the housing association has been collecting shopping and medication for its vulnerable residents.
Charlotte said: "When it came to the beginning of this, I have no one here at all, and I was thinking about how I was going to manage for 10 weeks.
"It wasn't possible, especially when I broke a femur and I was waiting to go in get a hip operation.
"They started bringing us soup and sandwiches five days and that has been absolutely fantastic."
Margaret said: "The worrying bit now is how we are going tackle the shops when we start going back out again. They say you have to keep your distance so I don't think I'm even going to try that."
Charlotte said she had seen the change to the advice for shielders in England and thought it was wrong.
"I think it's too soon," she said.
RHODA and JOHN
Rhoda Morrison, 56, is a genetics scientist who underwent a kidney transplant in August last year.
She was categorised as high risk at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak and has been staying home in Glasgow's Broomhill, with her husband, former BBC correspondent John Morrison.
Rhoda said: "Luckily we've got a garden, and we managed eventually to get shopping delivered to the house. So once that was sorted, it's actually been manageable, especially with weather. But we are trapped.
"I was a wee bit jealous of people in England. I thought they are moving on and getting ahead of things.
"But the more I thought about it, I realise nothing has really changed for me. I'm still highly at-risk, my immune system would not cope if I caught this virus. And the virus is still out there."
John added: "For us, the risk is still there for Rhoda's health. If she got the virus, it would not be a good thing for her. We are probably here until there is a vaccine or until the virus has pretty much disappeared."
"Although we are locked down, we are still able to go out and enjoy fresh air," said Rhoda.
"But if you were in a flat, without a garden or a balcony, it must be awful. It must be terrible."
GRANT and SHONA
Ski instructor Grant McNaughton is 36 and has been living with chronic myloid leukaemia for four years.
He returned from working in France just before lockdown. He received the official shielding letter on 1 April and has been in his tenement flat in Maryhill for two months.
However, he and his partner Shona have been venturing out in the early hours of the morning for exercise to avoid crowds.
Grant said he had stayed indoors for a six weeks. He said: "The first few walks, we were up at 5am and stayed out until maybe 7am.
"We don't want to push it too much. We've started to notice now, it's getting much busier when we're out."
He said he would like some relaxation to shielding restrictions but is cautious.
"I don't think I would have a good reaction to it if I got it," he said.
Shona added: "Grant was always really careful even during flu season to stay away from people who are sneezing and coughing.
"He had the flu last year and he was in hospital for it. It is a real worry - especially now seeing the crowds on TV, but Grant needs to look after himself."
Grant said: "The big worry is when I can get back to work, and when it will be safe to do that."
Ryan Hughes, 25, has cerebral palsy and requires personal care.
Even though he isn't part of the official shielding group, he's not been outside since lockdown began in March.
He stays in a top-floor flat near the M8 motorway in Glasgow.
Ryan said: "After Christmas I was out once sometimes twice a week. I was beginning to build my confidence and build on my social anxiety then lockdown happened.
"Mentally, it's been quite frustrating. Depressing really but I guess everybody has been in the same boat.
"In my own personal opinion I think England are moving far too fast. This virus is still out there. It's not completely away yet. We can't start celebrating too early."
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