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The UK government response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has moved to the delay phase.  The Prime  Minister, Boris Johnson, descibed it as “the worst public health crisis for a generation”.  The contain phase was brought to an end at a press conference alongside the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scienific Adviser.  They issued further advice and gave information on what can be expected in the coming weeks.

The advice

The most immediate advice is for anyone presenting with either a new, consistent cough or a high temperature (37.8C+) to self-isolate for 7 days.  There is no need at this stage for everyone in a household to also isolate unless they also have symptoms.  However, future measures could include the need to isolate for 14 days should any member of the household falls ill.

The advice states:

  • Not to go to work, school, or public areas, use public transport or taxis – or even for a walk
  • Those with even mild symptoms of infection should stay at least two metres away from other people in their homes, and should sleep alone
  • Those with confirmed or suspected cases should use a separate bathroom

The best defence against transmission remains to wash hands thoroughly.

Plan ahead

Bearing this in mind, businesses will want to start looking at arrangements for self-isolating staff members to work from home.  It is inevitable that numbers away from work will increase so businesses will need to think how best to cope.

Although not yet advocating policies of ‘social distancing’ such measures are likely to be introduced at some point in the next few weeks.  Thinking ahead businesses may wish to start reviewing any large meetings or events they have scheduled.  Can meetings be done as conference calls, webinars or video conferencing?

To reduce the strain on the NHS 111 phone line people with symptoms are urged to look for information on the NHS website and 111 online rather than call.

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