Here in the UK there have been only nine reported cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) to date (20.02.2020) according to the uk.gov website with the risk level currently set at moderate. But what does this mean for employers in the UK and what precautions can be taken as a result of the outbreak?
The advice given for those returning to the UK from time away in China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Macau in the last 14 days is if they develop symptoms of a cough, fever or shortness of breath they should immediately stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as one would with the ‘flu. They would also need to call NHS 111 to inform them of recent travel and gain further advice.
For further information check the https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public
Prevention is of course always better than cure. Currently there is no cure for COVID-19, but according to reports scientists are working on it. It’s best to advise any employees who are concerned with how to avoid catching or spreading germs. Good advice during the winter with common coughs and colds too!
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (yuck), not your hands, when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin straight away (not rocket science)
- wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
Employers need to consider the safety of employees travelling for business – particularly to the countries as detailed above (and perhaps returning from any cruises!). This needn’t halt some business, as technology such as video conferencing can mean that meetings still happen.
If things do become worse in the UK, companies that are able to, should consider remote and home working arrangements, but there are of course some sectors where this would not work. For further advice and guidance contact one of our fully CIPD qualified consultants.