Government admits to sending 13,000 warning letters for extremely vulnerable people to the wrong address

Around the UK, coronavirus lockdown includes a range of measures – from social distancing to self-isolation, to quarantine.

But for populations that are more vulnerable to Covid-19, shielding measures are necessary to keep as many people safe as possible. The Welsh government sent out 13,000 letters emphasising the importance of shielding – just to the wrong addresses.

In Wales, 80,000 people were supposed to receive a "shielding letter" which was addressed to them by the chief medical officer, Dr Frank Atherton. But 13,000 of those letters ended up going to the wrong addresses. These letters were supposed to have been received by the 3 April.

Shielding measures require people who are vulnerable to stay at home and avoid any face-to-face contact for 12 weeks – from the date that they receive a letter identifying them as such. Vulnerable populations, in this case, include people who have underlying health conditions and the elderly. These groups have been advised that the only people they should come into contact with are carers or healthcare workers.

A spokeswoman for the Welsh government explained that the source of the error was a processing problem and that some of the letters will have gone to previous addresses.

These letters provide a vital service – for people who live alone, it provides them with information on how to get medication, food and other essential items delivered if they have no immediate support system. The people who receive the letter also qualify for priority delivery slots from supermarkets, although social media posts suggest that this has not been the case for everyone yet.

The people in this group can also receive a free food box per week, as part of a bid to keep people at home, and have been advised to get in touch with their local council.

Delyth Jewell, the local government spokesperson for Plaid Cymru said that the mistake could have endangered peoples lives. Since then, the Welsh government has reissued letters to the correct addresses.

Thank goodness for that.

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