THE government has given clarification on the chief medical officer Chris Whitty's s advice on protecting the vulnerable from Coronavirus.

It follows questions from the public on the difference between household-isolation and social distancing.

Department of Health and Social Care sources have supplemented the guidance on these two precautions.

On household isolation the government is asking entire households to stay at home if anyone in the home becomes symptomatic.

This is because if you live with others you will infect each other or may already be infected. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.

Whole household isolation means that if you live alone and you have symptoms of the coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, you should not leave your home for seven days from when your symptoms started. The symptoms are a high temperature and a new, continuous cough. The same advice applies if you live with others.

As an additional step to delay the spread of the virus, the government is also asking that all other household members must stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the household becomes symptomatic.

Should someone else in the household contract coronavirus in this period then they are required to stay at home for seven days from their first symptoms.

Social distancing measures mean that people aged 70 more, who are under 70 but have an underlying health condition (i.e. eligible for an adult flu vaccine), pregnant women you are strongly advised to follow the below guidance:

Those under 70 with no underlying health conditions who are at a lower risk, are still advised to follow the government guidance.

Social distancing means: avoiding contact with someone who is unwell; avoiding public transport; working from home; gatherings, religious congregations, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs; and avoiding gatherings with friends and family particularly if someone has symptoms of COVID-19 or has recently been unwell.

Anyone who has symptoms or anyone who has been in contact with someone symptomatic should not be in contact with a vulnerable person for at least seven days.

People are advised telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services

Underlying conditions include: anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds: chronic respiratory diseases; chronic heart disease; chronic kidney disease; chronic liver disease; chronic neurological conditions; diabetes; spleen problems; a weakened immune system; or being seriously overweight (a Body Mass Index of 40 or above)

Neither household isolation of social distancing are the same as 'shielding' which is expected to be introduced soon and on which further guidance will be given. The shielding group will not be defined by age