The government has warned that up to a fifth of the workforce may be off sick during the peak of a coronavirus epidemic in the UK. Plans to contain Coronavirus if it spreads have been set out by the UK Government
At a press conference on 9 March, the government said that people who show “even minor” signs of respiratory tract infections or a fever will soon be told to self-isolate in an effort to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. The UK government’s chief medical adviser said the change in advice could happen within the next 10 to 14 days.
How does coronavirus spread?
Preventing coronavirus in the workplace
The guidance stresses that employers should start taking these the following measures now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate:
Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic.
Surfaces (eg desks and tables) and objects (eg telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly.
Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers.
- Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled;
- Display posters promoting hand-washing;
- Offer guidance from occupational health and safety officers;
- Make sure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water.
Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace.
- Display posters promoting respiratory hygiene. Combine this with other communication measures;
- Ensure tissues are available at your workplaces, for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them;
Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel advice before going on business trips.
- Brief your employees, contractors and customers that if COVID-19 starts spreading in your community anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3 C or more) needs to stay at home.
- Make clear to employees that they will be able to count this time off as sick leave.
The guidance goes on to advise on procedures for employees who travel (before travelling, during and after), and sets out advice for getting a business ready should COVID-19 arrive in the workplace. It is stressed that simple precautions and planning can make a big difference. Action now will help protect your employees and your business.