The spread of Coronavirus has been rapid and unpredictable. This policy has been drawn up to raise awareness of the steps that can be taken to mitigate the spread of the virus throughout our workplace and the locations where we undertake our business activities.
The remit of this policy is to:
- Define Coronavirus and its symptoms.
- Make everyone aware of precautions we should take in our work and personal life.
- Define procedures that should be followed should staff become ill or suspect they are infected.
- Define measures that the Company is taking to prevent Coronavirus being transmitted via our business activity.
- Outline contingency plans
- Describe how the policy will be managed and monitored during the Coronavirus outbreak.
In order for us to ensure that we can provide the best possible service, it is vitally important that your personal information is kept up-to-date and that we have accurate emergency contact numbers.
Definition of Coronavirus
The new virus, now officially known as Covid-19, is also more dangerous than the common cold. So far, around 15 to 20 per cent of hospital cases have been classed as “severe” and the current death rate stands at about two per cent. In most cases the virus causes mild to moderate symptoms.
It is believed that the virus is spread through droplets from infected people coughing and sneezing. Although, viruses cannot live outside the body for long, this particular strain can live on items (such as door handles etc) for up to 72 hours.
What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?
According to the NHS and the WHO, main symptoms of the coronavirus usually include:
- A persistent cough
- A high temperature
- Shortness of breath
In its early stages, these symptoms are similar to other respiratory diseases, including flu and the common cold. If someone has symptoms, consider whether they have travelled outside of the country at all.
How quickly do symptoms emerge?
Symptoms are thought to appear between two and 10 days after contracting the virus but may be up to 24 days.
There is also good evidence, as yet unconfirmed, that the virus can be spread by asymptomatic people – that is people who carry the virus but are not yet sick.
When should someone seek medical help?
Call NHS 111 if you have a high temperature, a persistent cough and you are feeling exhausted. You will be feeling very unwell with these symptoms. Therefore, do not visit your GP and call NHS 111 instead. Alternatively, if you have visited any affected area or been in contact with someone who has been in a coronavirus-affected area.
Precautions that should be taken in home and work life
Hand hygiene is the first and most important line of defence. You must wash your hands upon arrival at any destination immediately as well as upon departure.
Like cold and flu bugs, the new virus is spread via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. The droplets land on surfaces and are picked up on the hands of others and spread further. People catch the virus when they touch their infected hands to their mouth, nose or eyes.
It follows that the single most important thing they can do to protect themselves is to keep their hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and hot water. If no soap or hot water is available then a hand sanitising gel that is at least 60% alcohol will suffice.
Also try to avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands – something we all do unconsciously on average about 15 times an hour.
Other tips include:
- Carry a hand sanitiser with you to make frequent cleaning of hands easy (This should be a minimum of 60% alcohol).
- Always wash hands before eating.
- Be especially careful in busy airports and other public transport systems about touching things and then touching your face.
- Carry disposable tissues, cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the tissue carefully (catch it, bin it, kill it)
- Do not share snacks from packets or bowls that others are dipping their fingers into
- Avoid shaking hands or cheek kissing if you suspect viruses are circulating
- Regularly clean not just your hands but commonly used surfaces and devices you
touch or handle.
Following advice from Public Health England (South West):
- Disposable cloths should be used where possible and changed after every use.
- No mechanical cleaning equipment should be used in the household – this includes items such as hoovers, carpet cleaners and buffers).
It is believed that in order to pass the virus from person to person, contact within 2 metres is required for a period of no less than approximately 15 minutes.
Procedure should staff become ill or suspect that they have become infected
It is possible during these difficult times, that carers may need time off work in order to care for family affected or due to a lack of childcare should educational establishments close or the symptoms mentioned previously are displayed.
The Company’s usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply if someone has coronavirus.
The Company procedure for notifying the line manager of staff sickness must be followed.
If someone is required to go into self-isolation or quarantine:
You will receive Statutory Sick Pay if you
- Have been told by a medical expert to self-isolate.
- Have had to go into quarantine.
- Have coronavirus symptoms, for example a persistent cough or high temperature.
If someone becomes ill at work
- Get at least 2 metres (7 feet) away from anyone.
- Shut yourself into one room.
- Avoid touching anything or anyone.
- Cough into the crease of your elbow.
- Sneeze and blow into a tissue and then discard into a bin immediately.
- Use a separate bathroom.
If an employee is not sick but the employer tells them not to come to work
In this case you are entitled to your usual pay.
If employees need to take time off to look after dependants.
You are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on you (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations to do with coronavirus. For example:
- If you have children you need to look after or arrange childcare for because school or educational establishment has closed
- To help your child or another dependant if they’re sick, or need to go into isolation or hospital
This time off will be unpaid. The amount of time off you take to look after someone must be reasonable for the situation. For example, you might take 2 days off to start with, and if more time is needed, you may be able to book holiday.
If employees do not want to come to work
Some people may feel that they do not want to come to work if they are afraid of catching the virus. If there are genuine concerns, the employer must try to resolve them to protect the health and safety of the staff, ie flexible working.
If the matter cannot be resolved, you may be able to arrange to take time off as holiday or unpaid leave, but the employer does not have to agree to this.
Refusal to attend work could result in disciplinary action.
If someone comes to work with coronavirus
Seek guidance by dialling 111
Closure of the workplace
Closure of the workplace would be an extreme circumstance. Staff may be entitled to be paid subject to conditions. Some staff may be able to work from home.
Measures that the Company is taking to prevent Coronavirus being transmitted via our business activity.
Individual task emergency sheet. Detailed action plan. In the On-Call care folder and uploaded to CareLine Live for carers information.
Staff have been issued with gloves, aprons and face masks and are required to carry hand sanitiser. Hands must be washed or sanitised on entry and exit of every home.
Office staff do not work in very close contact with one another; however, a practice of regular handwashing must be followed. Good hygiene in shared areas such as the kitchen must be followed. Nobody should enter the office without washing their hands using soap and hot water.
Managing and monitoring this policy during the coronavirus outbreak.
The outbreak of coronavirus is currently gathering momentum.
The Registered Manager will monitor the situation and follow guidance issued from government agencies, rather than reacting to media sources.
Any change to our policy or working practice will be implemented without delay.
The Registered Manager is in contact with NHS Community Sister with regards to futher supplies as required (ie body suits).