Guidelines for dealing with coronavirus (COVID-19)

There has been a lot of coverage in the media regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), many of which has left people feeling uncertain and worried about best practices.

Coronavirus cases were first reported in Hubei Province, China, in December 2019. Since then, more cases have been reported internationally, with 13,525 people having been tested in the UK (as of 9am, 2nd March), with 40 positive cases of those tested. The Department of Health and Social Care will be publishing updated information here every day at 2pm until further notice.

The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate, and in most cases, people should be encouraged to continue on as normal, whilst remaining mindful to some key points, which we’ve outlined for you below.

If you suspect that you have contracted coronavirus, use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

What is coronavirus?

It is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus, a pneumonia of unknown cause. The outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30th January 2020.

Symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A cough
  • A high temperature
  • Shortness of breath

It is easily spread from person to person when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread through hand/face contact after touching anything that may become contaminated with the virus. Illness develops a few days after being infected, and while everyone is susceptible to it, it is expected that a quarter of the population will become ill.

Travel

Current advice for returning travellers is to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people if you’ve travelled to the UK from certain areas. For updated information on this, please click here.

Periodically check the risks of international travel before you go, and use country by country travel advice, as can be found here.

Advice for Workers

If you develop flu like symptoms, you should refrain from attending work until your symptoms have stopped. You should use normal sickness absence reporting procedures at this time.

If you have recently travelled to one of the areas affected by the virus, you should follow local government guidance and protocol.

Advice for Businesses

Employers have an obligation to safeguard their employees from spread of infection. If a member of staff attends work with flu like symptoms, they should be sent home to prevent further infection, with normal sickness absence reporting procedures adhered to.

If a member of staff is infected, or has to self-isolate post travel, or has come into contact with an individual who has been infected, businesses may decide it is appropriate for them to work from home. If this is the case, procedures must be followed to ensure that this is done safely and appropriately.

How we will help to prepare our Clients and Workers

In addition to looking at our sickness and work from home policies, as an agency, we are taking extra precautions during this time. These include:

  • Ensuring that temporary worker emergency contact details are up to date
  • Candidates will be asked prior to interview whether they have been abroad in the last 14 days
  • Pump action hand sanitiser will be provided throughout the building
  • Avoid shaking hands/hugging/unnecessary touch with Clients and Candidates
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