Easing of shielding restrictions: Our thoughts and advice Written by Mary Ferguson on Thursday the 25th of June 2020. The below message comes from us all at the PHA UK: On Monday 22nd June, the UK government announced significant changes to their guidance for those shielding due to the coronavirus pandemic. You can read more about these changes here. At the PHA UK, we welcome the easing of restrictions for people shielding with pulmonary hypertension. We know that staying at home and isolating from family and friends has been extremely challenging for many of our members. It is good news that due to a significant drop in the Covid-19 infection rate, people with underlying conditions can now start to explore something of a more ‘normal’ way of life. Our emotional and mental health are just as important as physical health. Getting out and about safely is very beneficial for both. At the same time, we understand that many of you may be feeling anxious about this. You must make decisions that you feel personally comfortable with and it’s important to take things slowly if you are worried. If you have been doing little or no exercise over the last few months, again it’s important to build your fitness and strength back up gradually. Don’t expect too much too soon. Do be kind to yourself. There has been a noticeable shift in emphasis from the government, which reflects the reduced risk of infection. We are no longer being told what we ‘can’ or ‘can’t’ do; instead we are being given guidance, based on science, with the emphasis on us as individuals to make our own decisions. We cannot guarantee that following the government guidance will be 100% ‘safe’, as no-one can, and nothing in life is – including staying at home. But government decisions are based on scientific evidence and we encourage you to follow their advice. It is particularly vital that even if you are worried about going out, you continue engaging with normal healthcare. If you need to seek treatment for a condition, please do. Don’t ignore symptoms. Remember that there is capacity within the NHS and it is important not to swap one problem for another. Finally, much of the news is focused on the possibility of a ‘second wave’ of Covid-19. It is inevitable that the lifting of restrictions may result in increased infection rates, but we would urge you to exercise caution when interpreting media headlines. Health anxiety has always been around, but it’s now become part of the national conversation. It is very normal to have concerns about our health. The NHS is far more prepared now and lessons have been learned. Every year we see seasonal spikes in flu and other diseases during the winter months. It may be that we learn to live with the existence Covid-19 in much the same way; but it’s important that we all do what we can to enjoy a good quality of life at the same time.