THOUSANDS more people have been told to shield after being identified them at serious risk of Covid.

NHS data reveals that 3,035 people in Braintree have received letters them to stay home.

It takes the total number of people advised to shield in the area to 9,395 - a 48 per cent increase.

The initial shielding list included people with single risk factors such as those with various cancers, or those with severe respiratory conditions.

It has been expanded after scientists developed a new tool which assesses whether someone is at risk of severe disease or death.

The tool looks at multiple factors including age, ethnicity, body mass index (BMI), other health conditions and also postcode, which is indicative of levels of deprivation.

Up until February 10, there were 6,360 patients on the list of clinically extremely vulnerable people in Braintree.

Across England, an extra 1.7 million people have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable – up from 2.2 million previously identified – with the total currently standing at 3.8 million.

The changes mean that around 800,000 people will be pushed up the vaccine priority list.

Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, said the 1.7 million will be eligible for additional support including medicine deliveries, priority slots for supermarkets and statutory sick pay.

Dr Harris said: "“All of these people who are identified for the first time are those who have not had an individual clinical condition that we’ve previously been able to identify through the clinically extremely vulnerable group, but they are people who have multiple personal risk factors and underlying health conditions which move them into a higher risk group."

Current advice states that shielding should continue until at least March 31.