Added on 16 March 2020

Key Facts

  • It is most likely to be spread through coughs and sneezes when a person is infectious
  • It is possible to spread it from surfaces as this is a new virus it’s not known how long it lasts on surfaces
  • You must not go to A&E if you are unwell and think you may have COVID-19
  • You must call your GP or 111
  • Good hand hygiene is one of the best ways of preventing the spread of the virus
  • Cough etiquette helps too

What is it?

Coronaviruses can make humans and animals sick. Some Coronaviruses can cause illness like the common cold and others can cause more serious diseases, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). This new Coronavirus started in Hubei Province, China. The virus was renamed (11th Feb 2020) SARS-CoV-2 and the disease the virus causes is now called COVID-19.

While Coronavirus is of concern, it is important to remember that most people displaying symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or tiredness are likely suffering with a cold or other respiratory illness, not Coronavirus.

How is it spread?

The Coronavirus is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:

  • Direct close contact with a person while they are infectious.
  • Close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes, or;
  • Touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.

How can we help stop it spreading?

  • Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses. You must:
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • Cover your cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • If unwell, avoid contact with others (touching, kissing, hugging etc.)

What are the symptoms?

Cough – temperature – shortness of breath

If you have been;

  • To Wuhan or Hubei Province in China in the last 14 days
  • To other parts of China, including Macau and Hong Kong, in the last 14 days
  • To Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Republic of Korea or Malaysia, Italy, Iran in the last 14 days
  • In close contact with someone with confirmed Coronavirus
  • And, have a high temperature, cough, shortness of breath (even mild)

You may be at risk of having been in contact with someone who has the virus, SARSCoV-2

What do I do if I become ill?

In the following scenarios staff must notify their manager and cannot go to work if they have:

  • Left, or transited through mainland China or other risk areas in the last 14 days (they must isolate themselves for 14 days from leaving mainland China or other risk area).
  • to Iran, areas of northern Italy in lockdown or “special care zone” areas in South Korea since 19 February
  • to other parts of northern Italy (anywhere north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini), Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar since 19 February and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath
  • Been in close contact with a confirmed case of Coronavirus in the last 14 days (they must isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case).
  • Any person who has fever or respiratory symptoms, however mild, within 14 days of return to the UK must not attend work. They should remain at home and contact their GP or 111 by phone immediately for advice.

What about a close family member?

Workers who don’t have any symptoms, but who have a household member who has travelled to a risk area and has symptoms should be excluded from work until the household member has been clinically assessed and results of testing is available.

What is self-isolation?

If the worker is required to self-isolate, they should remain at home for 14 days following last exposure and avoid close contact with other people as much as possible. They should:

  • Avoid having visitors
  • Ask friends, family or delivery services to drop off any food or medicines that they might need / run other errands on their behalf
  • Don’t go to work, school or public areas
  • Don’t use taxis or public transport
  • Don’t go to the GP or A&E

Workers who don’t have any symptoms, but who have a household member who has travelled to a risk area and has symptoms should be excluded from work until the household member has been clinically assessed and results of testing is available.

Treatment for Coronavirus

  • There is currently no specific treatment for Coronavirus.
  • Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.
  • Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.
  • You’ll need to stay in isolation away from other people until you’ve recovered.

Handwashing Techniques to Stay Healthy

Follow these five steps, every time

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. How long? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Do I need to wear a face mask?

  • It is not necessary to wear a face mask if you are well.

The  key principles to bear in mind:

  • Identify possible cases as soon as possible
  • Isolate to prevent transmission to other patients and staff
  • Avoid direct physical contact unless wearing appropriate personal protective equipment

And remember:

While Coronavirus is of concern, it is important to remember that most people displaying symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or tiredness are likely suffering with a cold or other respiratory illness, not Coronavirus.