Coronavirus has hit global headlines in recent weeks, with the World Health Organisation declaring a global public health emergency.
To date there have been no confirmed cases in the Bailiwick, but cases are rising in the UK with the current confirmed numbers (as at 3.3.20) standing at 85, a jump of 35 people from 2 March.
With an estimated impact of 20% of the UK workforce being off sick during the peak of the coronaviruses impact, and with statutory sick pay commencing in the UK as of the 1st day of illness, it is important to be minded of steps that can be taken as an organisation to help prevent the spread.
The Director of Public Health, Dr Brink, says that the relevant symptoms for a coronavirus are a cough, fever and shortness of breath. These symptoms are also frequently seen at this time of year and are common to many winter illnesses. The incubation period is thought to be between 3 and 14 days.
Companies should endeavour to:
- Follow public health agency advice on efficient ways to contain the virus;
- Actively communicate these plans with employees and customers;
- Minimise face to face interaction with customers if the virus is spread in Guernsey;
You can also help by ensuring that you:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub;
- Generally look after your health and wellbeing;
- Maintain a 2 metre distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever;
- Avoid touching eyes nose and mouth as you can transfer the virus from the surface of your hands to yourself;
- If you have symptoms that can be associated with coronavirus, self-isolate at home and avoid contact with other people;
The Public Health Services, have recommended that individuals should self-isolate, irrespective of symptoms if they have returned from one of the following areas in the last 14 days:
- Mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau)
- South Korea
- Specific lockdown areas designated by the government of Italy
If you experience symptoms (fever, cough or shortness of breath, no matter how mild) and have returned from the above countries in the last 14 days, then contact Public Health Services on 01481-725241, or, if you are feeling very unwell, phone 999 telling the operator of your symptoms and travel history.
The same is true if should you have returned from travelling to the following areas and are experiencing symptoms.
- Hong Kong,
- Malaysia or
- Northern Italy (defined by a line above, and not including, Pisa, Florence and Rimini),
- Tenerife – returning since 17 February 2020.
Advice on self-isolation and other items relating to Coronavirus can also be accessed at www.gov.gg/coronavirus.
Employers who do not typically pay employees for sickness absence, or not from the first day of leave, may wish to consider doing so to prevent employees who may have symptoms from coming to work where the virus could spread and cause resource risk to the company. If this strategy is chosen, it should be made clear that it is an interim discretionary measure during the Coronavirus situation.
Should your business involve travelling to other jurisdictions employers are encouraged to think about alternatives such as video conferencing.