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Coronavirus UK: loneliness rises to the highest levels of the pandemic


Loneliness in the UK is rising as the number of people feeling isolated and alone climbs from 2.6 million before the Covid crisis to a high of 4.2 million

  • At the beginning of November, 4.2 million adults were always or often lonely, reveals ONS
  • This is the height of acute loneliness since the lockdown in March
  • Before the pandemic, it was 2.6 million, according to the ONS

The UK experienced its greatest loneliness since the pandemic began the week after the clocks went back.

On the dark evenings of early November, 4.2 million adults were always or often lonely. This was the height of acute loneliness since the lockdown in March.

Before the pandemic, it was 2.6 million, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS data, based on surveys of more than 4,000 people, found 16-29-year-olds were twice as likely as locals to be lonely during the pandemic.

Numbers also show that around 2.6 million adults have not left their home for some reason in the past seven days, the BBC reports.

On the dark evenings of early November, 4.2 million adults were always or often lonely. This was the height of acute loneliness since the lockdown in March (archive picture).

The Minister for Solitude, Baroness Barran, said this winter will be an "incredibly challenging" time for many.

She said there are now new groups isolated amid the pandemic – including those without internet access and those who can no longer rely on jobs for their social lives.

Baroness Barran said it was important not to underestimate the importance of small acts by individuals such as calling people on the phone, writing a letter, or helping neighbors.

"It's these simple things that make people feel valued," she said.

ONS figures show that roughly one in four people was lonely in some form in early November, but in the week after the clocks went back an hour, there was a sharp increase in reports that they were "always or often" lonely.

Eight percent of adults fell into this category – the highest number since March.

The data comes from the announcement that nursing homes will finally be able to enable face-to-face visits over Christmas by testing relatives for Covid-19.

The government is running rapid tests at 20 nursing homes in low-infection areas in Hampshire, Devon and Cornwall to see if it is safe to allow family members to visit at-risk residents indoors.

ONS figures show that roughly one in four people was lonely in some form in early November, but in the week after the clocks went an hour back there was a sharp increase in those who "always or often" reported being lonely (inventory) .

ONS figures show that roughly one in four people was lonely in some way in early November, but in the week after the clocks went an hour back there was a sharp increase in those who "always or often" reported being lonely (inventory) .

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said if it proves effective, he plans to expand the program all over England within a few weeks.

In a round of interviews yesterday, the Minister of Health said: "I hope this will apply to all nursing homes by Christmas."

The move would finally enable families to visit loved ones in the flesh without needing “prison-like” windows for the first time in eight months.

According to the current rules, relatives can often only see through plastic screens. A small number of nursing homes allowed garden or drive-through visits, although these became increasingly less practical in winter.

The pilot will attempt to assess whether indoor visits still need to be socially distant or whether relatives will be able to hug and hold hands for the first time in months.

Visitors can touch loved ones as long as they test negative for Covid-19 and wear personal protective equipment. If it is deemed safe to do so, it is permitted nationwide.

The designs use both standard PCR tests and new lateral flow tests that give results in minutes, but miss between half and 25 percent of the time.

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