13th March 2020
Suspected/Confirmed Cases In The Workplace – Current NHS Guidance:
The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are the recent onset of:
- New continuous cough; and/or
- High temperature
- If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started. This action will help protect others in your community whilst you are infectious.
- Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home.
- Ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home.
- Stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home whenever possible.
- Sleep alone, if that is possible.
- Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water.
- Stay away from vulnerable individuals such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions as much as possible.
- You do not need to call NHS111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
Who this guidance is for
This advice is intended for people with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), including those with a diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, who must remain at home until they are well.
Will I be tested if I think I have COVID-19?
We will not be testing those who are self-isolating with mild symptoms. The following advice is designed to help people prevent the spread.
Why has the advice on self-isolation changed from 14 days to 7 days?
The 14 day period is for those who have had exposure to a confirmed case but have not shown symptoms. The 14 days represents the potential incubation period (the time it takes for symptoms to show if you have been infected).
Most people will no longer be likely to transmit the virus 7 days after the onset of symptoms. You do not need to call NHS111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms persist past 7 days you should contact NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.
Returning from travel overseas to affected areas
People who have returned from Hubei Province, including Wuhan, Iran, Daegu or Cheongdo in the Republic of Korea, and any area within Italy under containment measures in the last 14 days should avoid attending work. They should call NHS 111 for advice and stay at home.
Advice is in place for what to do if you have returned in the last 14 days from specified countries or areas which is being updated on an ongoing basis.
All other staff should continue to attend work.
What to do if an employee or visitor becomes unwell and believe they have been exposed to COVID-19
If the person has not been to specified areas in the last 14 days, then the normal practice should continue.
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.
Whilst they wait for advice from NHS 111 or an ambulance to arrive, they should remain at least 2 metres from other people. They should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects and be advised to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in a bag or pocket then throw the tissue in the bin. If they don’t have any tissues available, they should cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.
If they need to go to the bathroom whilst waiting for medical assistance, they should use a separate bathroom if available.
What to do if a member of staff or the public with suspected COVID-19 has recently been in your workplace
For contacts of a suspected case in the workplace, no restrictions or special control measures are required while laboratory test results for COVID19 are awaited. In particular, there is no need to close the workplace or send other staff members home at this point. Most possible cases turn out to be negative. Therefore, until the outcome of test results is known there is no action that the workplace needs to take.
What to do if a member of staff or the public with confirmed COVID-19 has recently been in your workplace
Closure of the workplace is not recommended.
The management team of the office or workplace will be contacted by the PHE local Health Protection Team to discuss the case, identify people who have been in contact with them and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken.
A risk assessment of each setting will be undertaken by the Health Protection Team with the lead responsible person. Advice on the management of staff and members of the public will be based on this assessment. The Health Protection Team will also be in contact with the case directly to advise on isolation and identifying other contacts and will be in touch with any contacts of the case to provide them with appropriate advice.
Advice on the cleaning of communal areas such as offices or toilets will be given by the Health Protection Team.
When individuals in the workplace have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
If a confirmed case is identified in the workplace, the local Health Protection Team will provide the relevant staff with advice. These include:
- Any employee in close face-to-face or touching contact
- Talking with or being coughed on for any length of time while the employee was symptomatic
- Anyone who has cleaned up any bodily fluids
- Close friendship groups or workgroups
- Any employee living in the same household as a confirmed case
These staff members are not considered cases and if they are well they are very unlikely to have spread the infection to others. However:
- Those who have had close contact will be asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact with the confirmed case and follow the home isolation advice sheet;
- They will be actively followed up by the Health Protection Team;
- If they develop new symptoms or their existing symptoms worsen within their 14-day observation period they should call NHS 111 for reassessment;
- If they become unwell with cough, fever or shortness of breath they will be tested for COVID-19;
- If they are unwell at any time within their 14-day observation period and they test positive for COVID-19 they will become a confirmed case and will be treated for the infection.
Staff who have not had close contact with the original confirmed case do not need to take any precautions and can continue to attend work.
Click here for further guidance.