You may have seen reports of a new Coronavirus in the media. To help you understand this new disease and take sensible steps to keep yourself and your employees safe, we’ve put together this quick guide.
What is The Coronavirus?
The new Coronavirus (COVID 19) is a new form of coronavirus, first detected in Wuhan, China, belonging to the same family of viruses as SARS, MERS and the common cold.
What are the symptoms?
The new Coronavirus typically presents with flu-like symptoms, including a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing. Most cases so far have been mild but there have also been more serious cases, including several deaths, though many of the people who have died have had pre-existing health conditions.
How do I catch it?
While it is believed the Coronavirus originated in animals, it has now been shown to be transmissible from person to person. While the exact mechanism for this is not yet clear, previous coronaviruses including SARS and MERS have been shown to spread from respiratory droplets, for example in coughs and sneezes.
Can I protect myself From Coronavirus?
There is no vaccine or treatment for the Coronavirus and the best defence against the virus is good hygiene. The NHS suggests you should:
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
Put used tissues in the bin straight away
Wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
Try to avoid close contact with unwell people
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
Promoting awareness of the above throughout your organisation may help reduce the spread of the virus should one of your employees become ill.
How Effective are Face Masks?
Public Health England advise that there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of face masks outside of clinical settings. They should be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly and disposed of safely to be effective, and should not be used as a substitute for proper hygiene.
Returning from China and East Asia
The FCO advises against all travel to the Hubei Province of China which is at the centre of the outbreak, and against all but essential travel to the rest of the country. If you return from Hubei province, you should call NHS 111 immediately. You may need to self-quarantine for 14 days. You should also call NHS 111 if you return from any other part of China (including Macau and Hong Kong), Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea or Malaysia and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath
Those in self-quarantine should take common-sense steps to avoid contact with others, including avoidance of public transport and public places. You can read more here.
What Happens Next?
As this is a new virus, the situation is likely to evolve over time, as will our understanding of the virus. You can find more information and updates on the World Health Organisation and Public Health England’s websites.