What do the changes in government advice from 1 June 2020 mean for you?

4 June 2020

Please be aware that some of the guidance may have changed since we wrote this blog. Read our coronavirus information for details of the current guidance.

Hello, we are Lynne and Emma, Specialist Pancreatic Cancer Nurses.

Over the last week, the UK governments have announced changes to the lockdown across the UK. We’ll explain what these changes mean for you if you have pancreatic cancer, depending on where you live.

If you’re shielding

If you have pancreatic cancer and have been shielding, the governments of England and Wales have updated their guidance from the 1st June. Therefore if you live in either of these countries you will now be able to leave your house to go outdoors (the government in England has suggested that this should be ideally once a day). However in order to do this its important you practice strict social distancing measures as you are still at high risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus.

We realise that for some people, you will have been able to leave the house for treatments and appointments. But for others that have stayed strictly indoors, we understand this slight easing of restrictions may cause mixed emotions. It may make you feel apprehensive, particularly as there has been significant emphasis on staying indoors and avoiding contact with others over recent weeks. Or you may feel relieved and that these changes will be beneficial for your emotional wellbeing, as you have not been able to leave the house other than appointments for some time.

These changes to go outdoors are not essential and you may still prefer to continue to stay at home as before. This is of course your personal choice. You may want to talk this through with your medical team to help guide your decision.

The government has provided some additional guidance on how to maintain your safety and protect yourself whilst going outdoors.

  • You should still stay at home as much as possible and minimise the amount of time you spend outside.
  • If you do go outdoors you can do so with other members of your household – although don’t go into other buildings, households, or enclosed spaces. In Wales you can also meet people you don’t live with as long as you stay outside.
  • In England, if you live alone you can spend time outdoors with one other person from another household. Ideally this should be the same person each time, ensuring that you maintain a 2 metre distance.

Read more about how to keep yourself safe if you go outside in our coronavirus information.

If you’re not shielding

If you have pancreatic cancer but aren’t shielding, you may still be at risk of getting ill from coronavirus. This includes:

  • people over 70
  • people with diabetes
  • people who have a weakened immune system from recent chemotherapy
  • people having radiotherapy
  • people who have had their spleen removed due to surgery.

You should continue to stay at home as much as possible. If you do go out, it’s important to minimise contact with people you don’t live with. You can see other people from outside your household as long as this is outdoors, but you should continue to be especially careful.

Follow the advice about social distancing:

  • Stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people you don’t live with at all times. Remember that the risk of infection from coronavirus increases the closer you are to someone and the longer you spend with them.
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home.
  • Avoid gatherings, including with friends and family.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus.

Read more on the NHS website.

People who had pancreatic cancer some time ago

If it’s some time since you had pancreatic cancer and you don’t have other health conditions and are fit and well, you are less at risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus. The government has changed the advice for people who are well, easing the lockdown. The guidance however varies in the different UK nations, so what will this mean for you?

In England – you can now spend time outdoors, including private gardens, in groups of up to six people from different households. You must continue to follow social distancing guidelines. Read more on the GOV.UK website.

In Wales – you can meet one other person from a different household, as long as you stay outside and continue to follow social distancing. You should stay in your local area – don’t travel more than five miles from home. Read more on the Welsh government website.

In Scotland – you can meet up with another household, as long as it’s with no more than 8 people. You need to stay outdoors, which can include a garden, and keep 2 metres apart.

You can do recreational activities in public outdoor spaces, like sitting and sunbathing. You can also exercise outdoors with others in your household as much as you like, as long as you stay within 5 miles of your home and follow social distancing. Read more on NHS Inform.

In Northern Ireland – you can see people in groups of up to 6 people who don’t live with you. You can only meet outdoors, and you must maintain social distancing, staying 2 metres away from other people at all times. Read more on the Public Health Agency website.

What you should not do

Although there had been some easing of the lockdown, there are still some restrictions that remain in place.

  • Don’t gather in larger groups of people you do not live with.
  • Don’t see people inside their home or any other indoor place. While you can pass through someone’s house to reach the garden or use the toilet, it’s important to avoid touching any surfaces, and wipe down the bathroom if you use the toilet.
  • Don’t share food or drink, or use cutlery or plates that someone else has touched if you have a BBQ or picnic – prepare and bring your own.
  • Don’t stay away from your own home overnight, except in a few circumstances, such as for work.

What if you get symptoms of coronavirus?

If you have symptoms of the coronavirus then contact tracing is now in place for people across the UK, but what does this involve?

If you have symptoms you can apply for a coronavirus test on the NHS website. If the test confirms that you have coronavirus, the NHS will contact you and ask for details of people you’ve been in contact recently. They’ll then ask them to self-isolate in case they get symptoms. This has been developed to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Read more about contact tracing on our website.

If you are having chemotherapy and get symptoms of coronavirus, or any type of an infection, call the number your chemotherapy team will have given you for advice.

We hope you have found this helpful. We recognise that things are tough at the minute. We are here at Pancreatic Cancer UK to support you. If you need any help or information then you can contact our Support Line nurses.

As always thank you for reading our blog, and please stay safe.

Lynne & Emma