A LEUKAEMIA patient in shielding isolation has decided to stay put, branding government advice that it is now safe for vulnerable people to go outside as “irresponsible”.

Mike Dicks, from Hove, has been in complete isolation for ten weeks. He suffers from chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and is at high risk from Covid-19.

The cancer affects white blood cells and prevents his body from fending off viruses.

Like more than a million people in the UK, the 52-year-old was warned to stay home and avoid all physical contact with others for at least 12 weeks.

The Argus: Mike has vowed to stay home until he feels it is safe for him to leave. Photo: Mike DicksMike has vowed to stay home until he feels it is safe for him to leave. Photo: Mike Dicks

Now, the Government has relaxed guidance for so-called “shielders”. They can go outside once a day and meet another person at a two-metre distance.

But Mike does not feel it is safe to leave. He said: “I’ve put myself in a secure place for more than ten weeks, and now the Government is saying that was pointless.

“They’re effectively saying: ‘Everybody’s out, and you can go out with them’.

“Tell me why that’s safe.”

Since the Government began relaxing the lockdown rules, Mike said it has become a “free-for all”. “Now, people in shielding can go out at exactly the time they let everyone else out,” he said.

“If the Government really cared about us there would be a separate time slot where people in shielding can leave the house. Instead it’s ‘everyone’s out – take your chances’.”

Mike said there has been “another layer of pressure” on people still trying to isolate since friends and family have been allowed out. He has been seeing pictures of them having fun and on the beach.

“The peer pressure on people in isolation has been getting higher, and I’m the one who has to keep saying no,” he said.

The Argus: Mike has only left the house twice since he was told to go into isolation. Photo: Mike DicksMike has only left the house twice since he was told to go into isolation. Photo: Mike Dicks

Since he was told to start shielding, he has only left the house twice, to take out the bins. He said: “It’s a ten-metre walk. I did it at midnight last time and it still terrified me.”

He fears it is too late for the Government to row back on loosening the lockdown guidance.

He said: “I look out of my window and the only shops that should be open are an estate agent and a car dealer. But all the others are opening up too.

"I don’t blame them – but the guidelines don’t say they can. The genie is out of the bottle now.”

Mike said he will make his mind up about leaving the house when there is clear evidence showing it will not put him in danger.

“I don’t see how it’s any safer now,” he said. “Nothing has changed about my condition, and nothing has changed about the virus.

“I don’t trust the Government on this. Until something changes, I’m not leaving”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We understand how challenging this period is, especially for those with long-term conditions and rare diseases, and we are doing everything we can to support patients, led by clinical advice.”

He added: “We want to make life easier for the most vulnerable and, as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to fall, the evidence shows those shielding can choose to spend time safely outside if they wish, as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.”