Is Your UK Business Prepared For The Coronavirus Outbreak
By Kieran Perry - UK Business Advisor - Sunday 01/03/2020
Breaking News - Twelve new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK today, bringing the total number of cases to 35 the UK's chief medical officer says. It is the biggest jump in cases the UK has seen in one day. Three patients caught the virus in the UK - they are known to be contacts of someone who already had it, and were found through contact-tracing. One of the patients, from Essex, has not been abroad and it is not clear where they contracted COVID-19.
The UK government is refusing to rule out placing entire cities on lockdown if the UK experiences a widespread outbreak of the novel coronavirus, according to the health secretary.
One of the latest patient in England is the first to contract the illness while in the UK. The chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, said it was unclear whether the man from Surrey contracted it directly or indirectly from someone who had recently returned from abroad.
Matt Hancock (UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care) said he would not “take anything off the table at this stage” when asked about a Wuhan-style quarantine by BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday. “There’s clearly a huge economic and social downside to that but we don’t take anything off the table at this stage because you’ve got to make sure that you have all of the tools available if that is what’s necessary,” he said.
The impact of a COVID-19 disease outbreak on your workforce should now be on every employer’s risk register.
It may be a lot of worry over nothing or it might be more serious, it’s always best to consider your options and prepare a plan. But the point of planning for risk is that you can manage it IF it does happen. Cases of COVID-19 in the UK have so far been limited, but if you look across Europe and focus on Italy it is clear how quickly the situation can change. Regardless of the severity of the illness and speed of its transmission, the public health reaction means that a coronavirus outbreak could have a significant impact on your business operations (as your employees are forced to self-isolate; or the their workplace is quarantined). And that is without even considering the secondary impact on customers and supply chains.
You should take a moment now to consider if you have a plan or need to update your business action plan to, or implement any changes that you feel need to be made now.
1. The next step is to consider to what extent your business (or business divisions) can withstand a complete or partial close-down, and for how long, and what will be required to get business up and running normally again.
2. What will be the impact on work-flow, turnover and cash-flow?
3. Consider your policy in respect of paying employees for the time they spend off work related to these issues. Employees who have contracted corona virus will be entitled to sick pay. Those who are told to self-isolate may not necessarily be legally entitled to sick pay, but it depends on how your contracts and policies are worded.
4. Think about your policy about whether and in what circumstances you will instruct individual employees to stay away from work.
5. You should also consider what practical steps can you take. Can you put in place additional hygiene and cleaning arrangements. Can you purchase and distribute hand and workstation sanitising solutions? You should expect the availability of these things to dry up pretty quickly as people start to prepare for the spread of the virus.
6. Finally, you should tread very carefully around conduct and poor performance issues which relate in some way to the actual or perceived risk of coronavirus. Public interest will be on the side of the employee, and employers can expect employment tribunals to look very sympathetically on employees who have been impacted (or who fear being impacted) by coronavirus or any policy decisions made in relation to it.
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Industries that maybe hit hardest by the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak include: manufacturing, education and training and wholesale. Other industries that have been also been impacted include accommodation and food services – which includes travel and tourism – community services, administrative and support services and property.
London's FTSE 100 share index has seen one of its worst weeks since the depths of the financial crisis in 2008 as markets continue to reel from the impact of the coronavirus.
Shares have shed almost 13% of their value, wiping £210bn from the value of companies on the index.
The NHS website Today explains:
Symptoms of coronavirus
The symptoms of coronavirus are:
a high temperature
shortness of breath
But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.
The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.
How to self-isolate if you're asked to
If there's a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate).
This means you should:
stay at home
not go to work, school or public places
not use public transport or taxis
ask friends, family members or delivery services to do errands for you
try to avoid visitors to your home – it's OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food.
You may need to do this for up to 14 days to help reduce the possible spread of infection.
The NHS recommend you Call 111 if you need to speak to someone for medical help or advice, regarding COVID-19 which is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.