Last updated: 28/05/20
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 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.
Even if your symptoms are mild, you should not go to the doctors or the hospital because it could put others at risk. Instead, stay at home for 7 days and avoid contact with others.
You should use the NHS 111 Online Advisory Service if you have either a high temperature or a new, continuous cough. The 111 online coronavirus service will ask about your symptoms and tell you what to do.
If you have symptoms you can ask for a Coronavirus test.
Is there a vaccine?
The WHO (World Health Organisation) state:
“While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of mild COVID-19, there are no medicines that have been shown to prevent or cure the disease. WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19. However, there are several ongoing clinical trials of both western and traditional medicines. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19 and will continue to provide updated information as soon research results become available.”
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)
- 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
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. Instead, stay at home for 7 days and avoid contact with others. You can use the NHS 111 Online Advisory Service if you have a high temperature and a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste and you feel you can't cope with symptoms at home or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days. Only call 111 if the online service is unavailable. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. If they do not get symptoms while self-isolating - they can stop self-isolating after 14 days. However if they get Coronavirus symptoms they should self-isolate for 7 days from when their symptoms started, even if it means they are self-isolating for longer than 14 days.
If you have symptoms you can ask for a Coronavirus test, in order for the NHS test and track system to be effective.
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.
What do I do if I’m asked to isolate myself?
If there's a chance you could have Coronavirus, you should self isolate for 7 days.
If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.
If they do not get symptoms while self-isolating - they can stop self-isolating after 14 days. However if they get Coronavirus symptoms they should self-isolate for 7 days from when their symptoms started, even if it means they are self-isolating for longer than 14 days.
If you share your home with others, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.
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.
There is no specific treatment for the Coronavirus at the moment, but specialists offer treatment that aims to relieve the symptoms while the body fights the infection.
If you get a positive result from the NHS test and track service you must continue to isolate.
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?
Gov.uk have stated:
- You may travel for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home and people should avoid public transport where possible.
- Certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance, if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services such as train and bus drivers.
- Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.
- From 13 May, people in England who "can't work from home" will be "actively encouraged to go to work"
- Staff who are unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) should not travel to or attend the workplace.
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.
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.