Last updated: 15/09/20
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a type of virus that can affect your lungs and airways. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world.
But, as this is a new strain of the virus, we don’t know exactly how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread in cough droplets. It's highly unlikely that it spreads through packages from affected countries or through food.
Scientists are currently working hard to find out more about it, and our understanding of the virus is likely to change as new information becomes available.
What are the symptoms of the Coronavirus?
The typical reported symptoms of Coronavirus include a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Generally, much like the flu, the Coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, such as older people and those with long-term health conditions.
What do I do if I think I may have the Coronavirus?
Even if your symptoms are mild, you should not go to the doctors or the hospital because it could put others at risk. You must self-isolate immediately if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.
If you have any of the symptoms you should get a test to check if you have you have it as soon as possible. You should then stay at home (no visitors) until you get your results, meaning you can only leave home to have a test (NHS). The NHS also advises that anyone you live with (including in your support bubble) should stay at home too until you get your result.
If you're not sure what to do or you are worried about your system then use the NHS 111 online Coronavirus service.
When do I have to self-isolate? And how long for?
The NHS state that if you display symptoms of Coronavirus you should:
- Not leave your home for any reason – if you need food or medicine, order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
- Do not have any visitors in your home
- You can use your garden if you have one. Any exercise should be taken at home.
You should self isolate if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, you've tested positive, you live with someone or someone in your support bubble has symptoms or has tested positive, the NHS Test & trace have told you to do so, or if you return from a country who are high risk (see here).
You have symptoms or have tested positive: isolate for 10 days - from the symptoms starting if you have not had the test results yet or 10 days from when you had the test but if you get symptoms after the test, isolate from then. Stop isolating when you no do not have any symptoms or you just have a cough or changes to your sense of smell or taste. Keep isolating if you have a high temperature, runny nose/sneezing, feeling sick or diarrhoea, you can stop when these symptoms have gone.
Find out more about what to do if you live with someone who has tested positive or has symptoms, or if you've been told to isolate by the NHS TEst & Trace and more about self-isolation here.
If you share your home with others, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.
Is there a vaccine?
The WHO (World Health Organisation) state:
“Work is ongoing at unprecedented speed to also make COVID-19 a vaccine-preventable disease. There are currently over 169 COVID-19 vaccine candidates under development, with 26 of these in the human trial phase. WHO is working in collaboration with scientists, business, and global health organizations through the ACT Accelerator to speed up the pandemic response. When a safe and effective vaccine is found, COVAX (led by WHO, GAVI and CEPI) will facilitate the equitable access and distribution of these vaccines to protect people in all countries. People most at risk will be prioritized.”
You can also sign up if you live in the UK to be contacted about taking part in approved UK coronavirus vaccine studies.
How can I minimise the risk of myself and others getting the Coronavirus?
There’s currently no vaccine for this virus, but there are things you can do to help stop germs like the Coronavirus from spreading:
- First of all, the NHS advise that you cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve - not your hands - when you cough or sneeze, and then put any used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water – using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home
- And avoid close contact with people who are unwell (keep a 2-metre distance and where not possible, 1 metre)
- They also tell you to not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean. There are also other things you can do to help prevent infections from spreading:
- Keep your fingernails short
- Don’t wear wristwatches, bracelets, or rings (apart from plain bands) as they can harbour germs and also make handwashing less effective
- At work, you can wear personal protective equipment, such as disposable gloves, masks, aprons and oversleeves, when you handle anything that may be contaminated with pathogens
- Keep clothes and protective equipment clean by washing them regularly. Putting clothing on a hot wash, hot ironing them or tumble-drying them should kill any bacteria present
- Keep your work and home environment clean, especially frequently touched objects and surfaces such as phones, keyboards, door handles, light switches and tabletops
- Get rid of waste regularly, for example by picking up rubbish and emptying bins. Use foot-operated bins rather than lifting lids with your hands
- Take particular care to throw away used tissues, sanitary waste, and medical waste correctly and immediately—and remember to wash your hands afterwards!
- Bacteria can build up on cloths and re-used towels, so always use single-use disposable towels or hand-dryers if they’re available, to avoid spreading bacteria
- Where face coverings when in enclosed public spaces (see when you do and don't have to wear a face covering)
Does washing hands help prevent the Coronavirus?
Keeping your hands clean is one of the important control methods for reducing the spread of infections but it is most effective if you follow the steps below:
To wash your hands:
- Use clean, hot, running water and soap – preferably antibacterial liquid soap from a dispenser – as soap bars can harbour germs.
- Wet your hands thoroughly.
- Rub the soap into your palms to form a lather.
- Clean your hands for 20 to 30 seconds. Go between your right and left hand for each of these areas – the backs, between your fingers, your thumbs and your wrists. Remember to check and clean your fingernails too.
- Then rinse the soap off with clean, hot, running water.
- Turn the tap off with a disposable hand towel to avoid re-contaminating your hands.
- Dry your hands thoroughly using a second disposable hand towel or a hand dryer. Make sure you dry your hands properly – it's easier for harmful bacteria to spread if your hands are wet or damp.
How can I educate my employees on preventing the Coronavirus?
We have recently released an Online Coronavirus Awareness Video that is available to view for free.
In the video, we provide practical advice to raise awareness of what Coronavirus is, how to reduce the risk of the virus spreading and what to do if you’re showing symptoms.
Do I need to allow my staff to work from home in the wake of Coronavirus?
While the general advice is for employees to work from home if they can, most workplaces are now re-opened. Therefore if your workplace is open, you can return to work but your employer must make arrangements for you to work safely.
If you have employees wishing to continue to work from home. The HSE have stated:
If your workplace is open, you can return to work but your employer must make arrangements for you to work safely. To help your people work from home you should:
- provide the equipment they need, for example, a computer, phone and videoconferencing facilities
- keep in regular contact with them, making sure you discuss their wellbeing
If staff are still wanting to work from home or you would like to provide the option for them to work from home, then see if you are able to make flexible work arrangements with your employees.
Can furloughed staff complete training?
You can still give your furloughed staff iHASCO training but cannot make it compulsory if their furloughed wage takes their salary to less than minimum wage.
Here’s what the Government say:
Once you are on furlough you will not be able to work for your employer, but you can undertake training or volunteer subject to public health guidance, as long as you’re not:
· making money for your employer
· providing services to your employer
If workers are required to, for example, complete training courses whilst they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least the NLW/NMW for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.
The furlough scheme ends on 31 October 2020.
Where can I find information on mental health considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak?
The WHO have documented some considerations to support mental and psychological well-being during the COVID-19 outbreak, which can be accessed here. The NHS has also partnered with Every Mind Matters to provide tips and advice on helping people to stay on top of mental wellbeing here. With continuous news stories on the Coronavirus, anxiety levels can rise but it is important for organisations and individuals to protect mental health with sensible and informed advice.
What is the rate of R?
The Reproduction rate - known as ‘R’ - tells us how many people will get infected for every one person who gets ill. On the 10th May, the Prime Minister stated that “we must make sure that any measures we take do not force the reproduction rate of the disease - the R - back up over one, so that we have the kind of exponential growth we were facing a few weeks ago.” He also stated that “everyone will have a role to play in keeping the R down” and as of the 10th May the rate of R is “between 0.5 and 0.9 – but potentially only just below one.”.
How can businesses prepare employees to return to work?
The government are set to issue guidance to make workplaces 'COVID-Secure' in the coming weeks. We will also be providing Returning to Work Essentials Training to help employers provide a smooth transition back into work for employees, within this bundle we also offer a Returning to Work after COVID-19 Training Course, which is essential for all organisations in the wake of Coronavirus. We also offer a Risk Assessment tool to conduct a Coronavirus Risk Assessment - which will be crucial upon your return to work. This will highlight any additional policies that need to be created - particularly surrounding social distancing and workplace hygiene.
FAQs regarding our Coronavirus Awareness Video
What is the duration of the video?
The video is just over 8 minutes.
Why is watching the video important?
Given recent events and the further spread of the Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19 or the Novel Coronavirus), it’s important to gain consolidated, practical advice of what Coronavirus is, what to do if you’re showing symptoms, and how to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
Fear of the unknown and feeling like we have a lack of control can contribute to panic. Therefore learning what there is to know at the moment, and how this information can help us to take preventive measures, whilst also knowing what to do if further action is needed can help you focus on the facts.
What platforms is the video available on?
Documents and resources
Prevent Spreading Germs Poster
A poster to encourage people to dispose of bacteria from sneezes properly.
Reducing Spread of Infection Poster
A poster to encourage people to wash their hands.
Free awareness video
iHASCO’s free Coronavirus Awareness Video.
Face Masks & Respirators
A useful resource including the dos, don’ts and step-by-steps for donning and doffing. This PDF is useful for anyone who has to wear a face mask as part of their work.
Ideal for employers with staff returning to work during COVID-19
Our checklist looks at what an employer might need to consider to make your workplace safe during COVID-19, such as...
- Creating COVID-19 policies and carrying out a COVID Risk Assessment
- Returning to work meetings
- Providing hand sanitiser or have sanitising stations
- Implementing one way systems
- Providing desk dividers/partitions
- Ensuring staff maintain social distancing