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14 February 2020

Coronavirus: information, advice and steps your company can take

Coronavirus: information, advice and steps your company can take

Since the outbreak of Coronavirus, which causes severe respiratory disease including pneumonia, in December 2019 in Wuhan Hubei Province China many organisations have implemented precautionary measures such as travel restrictions to and from China.

With cases of the virus now confirmed in the UK it is essential employers keep their employees up to date with the latest guidance and advice from government and public health agencies.

Below is a summary of the latest information, advice and guidance:

What is Coronavirus?

  • Novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.
  • A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
  • Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Situation in the UK:

As of 9:00am 09 February, a total of 795 people have been tested, of which 791 were confirmed negative and 4 positive.

Advice for Travellers:

  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Hubei Province due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao). The British Consulates-General in Wuhan and Chongqing are currently closed. If you're in China and able to leave, you should do so. The elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be at heightened risk.
  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised UK nationals to leave China where possible. If the situation continues to escalate the pressure on the Chinese health system may intensify, and it may also become harder for people to travel.

Advice for Returning Travellers:

  • Based on the scientific advice of SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) the UK Chief Medical Officers are advising anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and is experiencing cough or fever or shortness of breath, to stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild.

Employers can take the following steps with their employees:

  • Educate employees about the coronavirus ensuring that employees know what to do if they are concerned that they or their colleagues are infected by the coronavirus.
  • Stay abreast of travel advice and warnings from relevant public health and governmental authorities in respect to where your employees may travel or where you currently have operations. Consider reducing, making optional, or banning all non-essential work trips to affected regions.
  • Provide guidance to managers about how to address concerns from employees about international travel.
  • Begin contingency planning for operations and supply-chain disruptions that may occur due to travel restrictions in affected areas.

For more information on the outbreak of coronavirus in China, including the current situation in the UK, information about the virus and its symptoms please visit the following links:

Coronavirus and the situation in the UK:

For advice from the NHS:

World Health Organization Advice

Advice on travel to China:

*Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

To keep you informed and up-to-date with the latest information and advice our, HR and Health and Safety team have put together a document with answers to questions you may currently be asking. 

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For more information please contact:
Mandy Robson
Mandy Robson