Ok, we aren't one for overreacting but I am sure you will get many questions and queries regarding the Coronavirus strain.
Currently there has been 78,959 reported cases of the virus, with 2,791 cases of fatality (mainly located in China and the Hubei Province) - the World Health organisation have created a very useful map to highlight the countries and numeral breakdowns worldwide.
We aim to keep you informed and updated as the situation develops, and we have also found this informative guidance from Public Health England.
If you are worried about symptoms, please call NHS 111. Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment.
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:
difficulty in breathing
There are 2 main routes by which people can spread COVID-19:
Infection can be spread to people who are nearby (within 2 metres) or possibly could be inhaled into the lungs.
It is also possible that someone may become infected by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as touching door knob or shaking hands then touching own face)
Public Health England (PHE) recommends that the following general cold and flu precautions are taken to help prevent people from catching and spreading COVID-19:
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 people who are unwell
clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
If you are an employer - the recommendations are
If the person has not been to specified areas in the last 14 days, then normal practice should continue.
Employees are not recommended to wear facemasks
If someone becomes unwell in the workplace and has travelled to China or other affected countries, the unwell person should be removed to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people. If possible find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a closed door, such as a staff office. If it is possible to open a window, do so for ventilation.
The individual who is unwell should call NHS 111 from their mobile, or 999 if an emergency (if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk) and explain which country they have returned from in the last 14 days and outline their current symptoms.
By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness. After 7 days, it is for the employer to determine what evidence they require, if any, from the employee. This does not need to be fit note (Med 3 form) issued by a GP or other doctor.
Your employee will be advised to isolate themselves and not to work in contact with other people by NHS 111 or PHE if they are a carrier of, or have been in contact with, an infectious or contagious disease, such as COVID-19
For more information and regular updates, the following websites are extremely useful
World Health Organisation
They provide comprehensive articles on the strain, daily situation updates, an international map and global travel advice
Public Health England (Gov UK)
Provides daily updates on the UK risk level (currently at Moderate, whilst worldwide is High). They also highlight a summary of all current action taken place, NHS advice and also updated travel advice for those returning to the UK or those travelling to effected areas.