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Coronavirus: ‘People shielding too scared to leave home’

Natasha Coates

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Natasha Coates said she would still not be going out when shielding measures end on 1 August

A woman who is “allergic to everything” says people shielding in the pandemic are still scared to leave home.

Natasha Coates, 25, said her life has been “frozen in time” after four months indoors but she has no plans to change.

“Those of us shielding are still in the exact same situation we were at the beginning of lockdown,” she said.

Her worries come after charity Scope said 95% of disabled people feel they will still not be safe when shielding advice ends on 1 August.

The elite gymnast from Nottingham has mast cell activation syndrome which causes her to have daily allergic reactions.

Since March, the furthest from home she has been is the bottom of her driveway.

“I’ve been told by doctors to stay indoors and stay safe, but to switch my mindset to going out is hard,” she said.

“It’s deciding whether going out shopping or for a walk is worth risking my life for.”

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Natasha Coates

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Miss Coates suffers allergic reactions almost every day and is sometimes taken to hospital for the more serious ones

“It’s hard seeing people going out and getting back to normal,” added Miss Coates.

“Lockdown was not too bad at the start because we had the community spirit, everyone was supporting each other. But people’s lives are carrying on now and we’re still stuck here.

“We’re frozen in time. They are forgetting about us.”

‘Feel overlooked’

Scope surveyed more than 1,000 adults with a health problem or disability, and found one in five are unwilling to leave home until a vaccine is found.

The charity has written to PM Boris Johnson calling for the needs of disabled people to be prioritised.

Mark Hodgkinson, Scope chief executive, said many were “worried about life after lockdown”.

“Shielding may be set to pause, but for millions of disabled people at greater risk of coronavirus their fears have not been taken into account and they feel overlooked.”

A government spokesman said: “We know this has been a challenging time for disabled people and their families, and we have been doing everything we can to support them at every stage of this pandemic.”

He said they had increased the standard Universal Credit allowance, suspended face-to-face assessments for health and disability benefits, and were offering help online or over the phone.

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