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Coronavirus fact sheet: everything you need to know

The coronavirus is a disease that causes flu-like symptoms and, potentially, leads to serious illness and death. It first appeared in December 2019 in Wuhan, which is within the Hubei province, China. Since then, it has spread to countries across the globe.


Although the number of reported cases of coronavirus in the UK remain low, the situation is quickly evolving. There are a number of risks posed by the virus that employers will need to be aware of and it is important to remember that employers have a duty of care towards their employees. To this end, they must take reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of their workforce.

 

The AP Partnership has a selection of letters and policies that organisations can use as a result of the outbreak.  If you require any of these then please contact your Consultant.  
 
The Government coronavirus action plan


On 3 March 2020, the UK government released its action plan for tackling the outbreak of Covid-19 and the spread of the coronavirus.
Essentially, it outlines four stages:

•    Contain: detect early cases, follow up close contacts, and prevent the disease taking hold in this country for as long as is reasonably           

     possible
•    Delay: slow the spread in this country, if it does take hold, lowering the peak impact and pushing it away from the winter season
•    Research: better understand the virus and the actions that will lessen its effect on the UK population; innovate responses including

     diagnostics, drugs and vaccines; use the evidence to inform the development of the most effective models of care
•    Mitigate: provide the best care possible for people who become ill, support hospitals to maintain essential services and ensure ongoing

     support for people ill in the community to minimise the overall impact of the disease on society, public services and on the economy.

 

As part of the announcement, Boris Johnson reassured that the UK is ‘well prepared’ for a potential outbreak and is still in the early stages of containment.


However, he did agree it was ‘likely’ that the virus will spread in the coming weeks and that 'everyone is susceptible' of catching it.
In a ‘stretching scenario’, it is possible that up to one fifth of employees may be absent from work during peak weeks.


It is also possible that an outbreak or pandemic of Covid-19 could also come in multiple waves.


Areas for organisations to be aware of in the event of an outbreak are the following:


•    An increased number of schools could potentially be closed to minimise spread, which will likely result in a large number of requests for

     Time off for Dependants
•    Organisations may be encouraged to allow a greater number of staff to work from home
•    Reduction of large-scale gatherings could be implemented
•    Hospital worker shifts could be altered and leavers or retirees could be called ‘back to duty’


Going forward, it is possible that more serious steps will be taken and emergency legislation passed. For now, the government is continuing to issue the advice it was providing before. People should wash hands with soap regularly and check Foreign Office advice before travelling abroad. If they return from affected countries, they should follow existing advice on self-isolation.

Statutory sick pay to be payable from day one for coronavirus


The government announced on 4 March 2020 that emergency legislation would be introduced for the payment of statutory sick pay (SSP) to employees with the coronavirus. They will be entitled to receive SSP from day one, not day four, of their illness.


However, this is not in place at the moment and it is yet to be confirmed when this will come into force. 

All travellers from Italy should self-isolate


On 10 March 2020, the government advised that all travellers returning from anywhere in Italy, whether from the previous red zone areas or elsewhere in the country after 9 March should self-isolate, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms. This was to reflect the fact that the entirety of the country has been placed on lock-down until April 3.