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Covid-19, the Corona Virus, news of the epidemic, infection, control and spread

as we receive it at PHN.

Covid -19

Primary Health Net publish all data and information received on one page as we receive it.

As of most Opchat and PHN pages all are archived so we will be adding news stories to this page in the order received. There might be some duplication with our Opchat News but it will remain on this page to be referenced. Case numbers each day plus county variations are shown further down the page.

Latest Infection Rates

COVID-19 alert level: update from the UK Chief Medical Officers
London, South Essex, and South Hertfordshire to move to Tier 3 restrictions
Commercial providers of COVID-19 testing urged to sign up to new DHSC webinars
New film shows importance of ventilation to reduce spread of COVID-19
Amended & Day rolling infection Rate after Government Admission of error
Interim results from largest COVID-19 study published October 1st 2020
New Lighthouse Lab to boost NHS Test and Trace capacity
Three recent changes from August 2020 onwards reflecting the application of the brakes on lockdown easing.
Find out all you need to know about the new job retention scheme
Membership Organisations and Colleges combine to release Workforce Risk Assessment
Leicestershire coronavirus lockdown: areas and changes
New saliva test for coronavirus piloted in Southampton
World first coronavirus treatment approved for NHS use by government
Whole home testing rolled out to all care homes in England
As Government imposes compulsory face masks and PPE for every worker in hospitals, they announce new PPE UK deals
Government launches NHS Test and Trace service
Local Authority test and trace support announced.
Government to offer antibody tests to health and social care staff and patients in England
Government begins large scale study of coronavirus immunity
Coronavirus: UK furlough scheme extended to October with part-time work allowed
The public is advised to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as shops, trains and buses to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Government launches new portal for care homes to arrange coronavirus testing
Coronavirus test, track and trace plan launched on Isle of Wight
Coronavirus testing extended to all essential workers in England who have symptoms
Live Webinars available as tutorials for understanding CJRS payments, but limited so hurry.
Prepare to make a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): personal protective equipment (PPE) hub
Further Updated Details from HMRC with links
Health Secretary sets out plan to carry out 100,000 coronavirus tests a day
Self-employment Income Support Scheme
Financial support for people and businesses
Routine Eyecare by Optical Practices ordered to cease on March 23rd in Scotland
Key Workers
New indemnity scheme for historical clinical negligence claims
New guidance to stay at home for 14 days if someone in your household has symptoms
What to do if you have symptoms?
Latest infection rates


COVID-19 alert level: update from the UK Chief Medical Officers

January 4th 2021 20.00 hours

A joint statement from the UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) recommending that the UK COVID-19 alert level move from level 4 to level 5.
Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the 4 UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England Medical Director recommend that the UK alert level should move from level 4 to level 5.

Many parts of the health systems in the 4 nations are already under immense pressure. There are currently very high rates of community transmission, with substantial numbers of COVID patients in hospitals and in intensive care.

Cases are rising almost everywhere, in much of the country driven by the new more transmissible variant. We are not confident that the NHS can handle a further sustained rise in cases and without further action there is a material risk of the NHS in several areas being overwhelmed over the next 21 days.

Although the NHS is under immense pressure, significant changes have been made so people can still receive lifesaving treatment. It is absolutely critical that people still come forward for emergency care. If you require non-urgent medical attention, please contact your GP or call NHS 111.

Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty

Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton

Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Dr Gregor Smith

Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride

NHS England, National Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis

London, South Essex, and South Hertfordshire to move to Tier 3 restrictions

Dec 14th 2020

Urgent action needed to reduce transmission of the virus in these areas

Tier 3 Restrictions will apply in all 32 London boroughs and the City of London, parts of Essex and parts of Hertfordshire from the beginning of Wednesday 16 December
Latest data shows an exponential rise in cases as well as rising local hospital admissions which will soon put additional pressure on already overstretched NHS capacity

All 32 London boroughs and the City of London, and parts of both Essex and Hertfordshire will be moved to Tier 3 restrictions, coming into effect from the beginning of Wednesday 16 December, the government has announced today. 

The areas that are being moved to Tier 3 are:

all of London’s 32 boroughs and the City of London

in Essex: Basildon, Brentwood, Harlow, Epping Forest, Castle Point, Rochford, Maldon, Braintree, Chelmsford – and two unitary authorities Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea Borough Councils

in Hertfordshire: Broxbourne, Hertsmere, Watford and Three Rivers

The latest epidemiological data shows an exponential rise in confirmed cases in these areas, necessitating emergency action ahead of the scheduled review point on 16 December.

Since the end of national restrictions, the situation in London, part of Essex and South Hertfordshire has deteriorated.

New cases have continued to rise and hospital admissions have increased. Without urgent action this trend would continue at an increasingly rapid rate, leading to a rise in hospital admissions and deaths in the following two weeks, hitting the NHS at its busiest time of year. Latest figures from the ONS showed almost 1 in 3 people in England show no symptoms of having the virus but are still able to pass it on- requiring everyone to play their part to prevent the situation worsening.

The London weekly case rate at 225 per 100,000 people is already the highest regional rate in the country. Havering has the highest rates in London, at 471 per 100,000. These rates do not include the most recent days of incomplete data which show the sharpest rises.

In South Essex, case rates are greater than 200 per 100,000 in 10 out of 14 local authorities and are increasing across the area, with cases in Basildon reaching 563 per 100,000. In South Hertfordshire case rates are greater than 150 per 100,000 in 4 out of the 5 local authorities bordering London and have increased by 10% or more over the last 7 days. Broxbourne’s cases have reached 358 per 100,000.

As of 11 December there were 2,212 hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and 261 mechanical ventilation beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in London, up from 1,766 occupied hospital beds and 242 occupied ventilation beds on 6 December. Daily hospital admissions in London for COVID-19 have increased from 179 on 6 December to 277 on 11 December.

Commercial providers of COVID-19 testing urged to sign up to new DHSC webinars

New proposals will see commercial testing accredited solely through UKAS, making the accreditation of private COVID-19 tests faster and more efficient.

The accreditation of private COVID-19 tests will be faster and more efficient, thanks to a streamlined process being proposed by the government.

Under this proposal, the updated accreditation scheme would be mandated by government this month. The proposals will see commercial testing accredited solely through UKAS, the UK’s national accreditation body.

Previously, providers of COVID-19 testing were required to be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

This suggested new approach will simplify the landscape for test providers entering the market by avoiding any duplicate registration processes and make it easier for consumers to understand the quality of the testing services available to them.

Lord Bethell, Minister for Health, said: The private sector has a critical role to play in fighting this dreadful virus, and I am calling on all those who can help protect our communities to step forward.

As the demand for private sector testing increases, we need to enable private providers to be accredited in a timelier manner, while making no compromises on our rigorous safety standards.

We want to work with private providers to get them through this new process as quickly as we can and have them contributing to the enormous efforts that have been made to increase testing capacity across the country. I urge commercial providers to join our webinar sessions, so they are fully informed of what is required when this policy is intended to come into full effect later this month.


To make sure that providers are best prepared and have the resources at hand to ensure timely accreditation, the Department of Health and Social Care, working alongside UKAS, are running a number of free online webinars to walk private providers through the proposed changes.

There will be 3 webinars on the following dates:

Tuesday 8 December, 2pm to 3pm

Wednesday 9 December, 2pm to 3pm

Friday 11 December, 2:30pm to 3:30pm

You can join these sessions by emailing for further details.

November 2020

New film shows importance of ventilation to reduce spread of COVID-19

Research shows that being in a room with fresh air can reduce the risk of infection from particles by over 70%

The film is part of the ‘Hands. Face. Space’ campaign which urges public to adopt simple health behaviours to help reduce the risk of the virus spreading
A new public information campaign has launched today by the government to highlight how letting fresh air into indoor spaces can reduce the risk of infection from coronavirus by over 70%.

The campaign, which forms part of wider ‘Hands. Face. Space’ guidance, sees the release of a new short film created with scientists and an engineer at Leeds University.

The film illustrates how coronavirus lingers in the air in spaces with no fresh air, increasing the risk of people breathing in infected particles, and how the risk can be reduced significantly by regularly ventilating enclosed areas.

The new film will run across social and digital advertising in England.

Research shows that being in a room with fresh air can reduce your risk of infection from particles by over 70%, as fresh air dilutes the particles.

As we spend more time indoors, experts are recommending that people either:

open windows for short, sharp bursts of 10 to 15 minutes regularly throughout the day
leave windows open a small amount continuously
This is to remove any infected particles lingering in the room.

Additionally, it is advised that any household systems that use outdoor air, including kitchen or bathroom extractor fans, are used correctly and regularly as an additional method to remove infected particles.

Airing indoor spaces is particularly important when:

People have visitors (when permitted) or tradespeople in their home, for example for construction or emergencies
Someone from a support bubble is meeting with another household indoors
A care worker is seeing a patient indoors
Someone in the household has the virus, as this can help prevent transmission to other household members

Public Health Minister, Jo Churchill said:We all spend more time inside over the winter, so ventilation is essential.As the weather gets colder and wetter, letting in fresh air in short burst helps to reduce the risk of coronavirus in our homes. We should all remember: open your windows, and Hands. Face. Space.

Professor Catherine Noakes, from Leeds University who advised on the film, said:When a room does not have any fresh air, and where people are generating large amounts of aerosol through activities such as singing and loud speech, that is when transmission of coronavirus is most likely. Fresh air must come from outdoors – recirculating air just means the aerosols containing the virus move around the same room rather than being extracted outdoors.

Ventilation units or any household systems that use outdoor air can be just as effective as opening windows or doors as long as they are limiting the recirculation of the same air.

Coronavirus is spread through the air by droplets and smaller particles (known as aerosols) that are exhaled from the nose and mouth of an infected person as they breathe, speak or cough. They behave in a similar way to smoke but are invisible. The majority of virus transmissions happen indoors. Being indoors, with no fresh air, the particles can remain suspended in the air for hours and build up over time.

The longer people spend in the same room as these particles, the more likely they are to become infected.

Interim results from largest COVID-19 study published October 1st 2020

Oct 1st 2020

Over 80,000 volunteers tested in England between 18 and 26 September as part of the country’s largest study into COVID-19.

Interim findings from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI show 1 in 200 people were infected but suggest growth of infection may be slowing
Figures reinforce the need for everyone to play their part remembering hands, face and space, the rule of 6 and self-isolation for those who risk passing on the virus
Interim results from the fourth report of the country’s largest study on coronavirus rates of infection have been published today.

The study examines levels of infection in the general population in England by testing over 150,000 participants each month over a 2-week period.

Over 80,000 volunteers out of 150,000 have been tested so far between 18 and 26 September. Findings show infections increased substantially across the country before the R rate fell to around 1.1, suggesting the growth of infection may be slowing. It is estimated 1 in 200 people in England were infected with the virus, reinforcing the need to remain vigilant.

Today’s report shows prevalence of infection increased across all age groups and regions. Infection was highest in those aged 18 to 24 with 1 in 100 people infected, and cases increased seven-fold in those aged over 65. The North West had the highest levels of infection and the number of infections in London increased five-fold.

The final report and findings of all 150,000 volunteers tested between 18 September and 5 October will be published next week.

The high rate of infection reinforces the need for the public to follow the latest rules. Individuals must only meet socially in groups of up to 6 people in any settings indoors or outdoors, including your home, restaurants and pubs. There are some exemptions including organised sports, weddings and funerals and formal childcare.

It is important to continue to keep your distance from others outside your household, download the NHS Test and Trace app and follow advice from NHS Test and Trace if contacted. If you develop symptoms you must self-isolate, along with your household, and get a test. Some areas in England are subject to other local restrictions and it is vital residents follow the rules in place in their area.

Professor Paul Elliott, Director of the programme at Imperial from the School of Public Health, said:

While our latest findings show some early evidence that the growth of new cases may have slowed, suggesting efforts to control the infection are working, the prevalence of infection is the highest that we have recorded to date.

This reinforces the need for protective measures to limit the spread of the disease and the public’s adherence to these, which will be vital to minimise further significant illness and loss of life from COVID-19.

Kelly Beaver, Managing Director- Public Affairs at Ipsos MORI, said:

The continuing support of the public by taking part in the study is something we remain immensely grateful for.

The number of participants gives this study the robustness and thoroughness which marks it out as world leading. Ipsos MORI would like to thank everyone who’s volunteered so far and those who will volunteer for further rounds of this study.

The report was commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)

New Lighthouse Lab to boost NHS Test and Trace capacity

September 4th

Lab capacity to continue to increase ahead of winter, with a new Lighthouse Lab set to open near Loughborough by the end of September.NHS Test and Trace continues to reach the majority of those testing positive and their contacts in week 13 of operation

Brand new large-scale technology to increase the number of tests that NHS and Lighthouse Labs can process is being introduced

A new Lighthouse Lab near Loughborough will join Britain’s largest network of diagnostic testing facilities in history to increase coronavirus testing capacity.

The new lab will be brought into the lab network this month and will be able to process around 50,000 tests per day by the end of the year.

This comes as the weekly statistics from NHS Test and Trace show that the service continues to reach the majority of those testing positive and their contacts, in week 13 reaching 80% of contacts where contact information was available.

Demand for testing continues to rise, with those tested for the first time increasing by 63% since mid-June.

The new lab is part of plans to scale up testing capacity to 500,000 swab tests per day by the end October. There is currently capacity for 350,000 tests each day in the UK, across all 4 testing pillars including antibody tests and surveillance studies. The growth in demand means that existing capacity for pillar 2 swab tests is being fully utilised and in line with existing plans, the capacity is being quickly expanded.

Alongside increased Lighthouse Lab capacity, brand new large-scale processing units are being rolled out for use across both NHS and Lighthouse Labs.

Today £500 million has been announced to increase capacity and roll out new cutting-edge testing technology to deliver rapid tests. Chains of transmission will be broken almost immediately by delivering on-the-spot results. Successful trials will then be expanded and rolled out further, with new tests being used in Salford, Southampton and Hampshire over the coming weeks.

NHS Test and Trace continues to focus efforts to uplift testing by working closely with local authorities and communities where there is high prevalence of the virus.

Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Public Health, Baroness Dido Harding, said:

NHS Test and Trace has been operating for more than 3 months and during that time it has consistently reached the majority of those testing positive and their contacts, almost 330,000 people at risk of unknowingly passing the virus on.

As the service has become part of our everyday lives, demand for testing has increased. To meet this, we continue our efforts to build and scale testing capacity to reach 500,000 tests per day by the end of October by making use of new tests, new labs and new technology.

Thanks to all the people who have come forward for a free test, and the vital work of local teams around the country making sure people are aware of testing we are breaking chains of transmission. The advice remains the same: if you have symptoms of coronavirus get tested and if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace, follow the advice you receive.

From this week, the new equipment which will boost processing capacity for each lab beyond 100,000 tests a day will be trialled in the Milton Keynes Lighthouse Lab. The technology will allow labs to process a higher number of test samples simultaneously, reduce costs, and will be able to process saliva-based tests being piloted in Southampton and Salford announced today.

Increased lab capacity across the country will help to further improve test turnaround times while meeting additional demand, with this week’s NHS Test and Trace statistics showing that 84.3% of in-person test results already being returned the day after a test was taken. The median average time it takes for a test result to be returned from a drive-through or walk-through test site is now only 24 hours, or 22 hours at a mobile testing unit.

Since launching in May, the service has reached almost 330,000 people at risk of unknowingly passing the virus on, significantly curbing the spread of coronavirus in England.

These figures demonstrate that NHS Test and Trace continues to perform well against international contact tracing standards.

Three recent changes from August 2020 onwards reflecting the application of the brakes on lockdown easing.

August 1st

Read PHN's story on rolling day rate infections in the UK here

New rules on gatherings in some parts of Northern England

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has this weekend announced that new rules on social gatherings will be introduced in Northern England to stop the spread of COVID-19.

These changes will also apply in Leicester city.

This is in response to an increasing trend in the number of cases per 100,000 people in the area, and data from Public Health England (PHE) and the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) which suggests transmission among households is a key infection pathway in the area.

The areas that these changes apply to are:
The Greater Manchester area
Blackburn with Darwen
Leicester City

It means people in these areas will not be permitted to mix with other households (apart from those in their support bubbles) in private homes or gardens.

Some exemptions will be put in place, including for the vulnerable.

The government will sign new regulations to make these changes legally enforceable.

The regulations will give local authorities and police forces the powers to enforce these restrictions and more details on these will be set out when the regulations are published.

Households may go to hospitality, for instance bars and pubs, but new guidance will make clear that two households should not go to hospitality together.

Meanwhile local leaders and government have today agreed a number of changes to local restrictions in other areas.

While social gathering restrictions remain in place in Leicester City, the area will benefit from the lifting of restrictions that took place on 4 July in England, and all local restrictions currently in place in the neighbouring borough of Oadby and Wigston will end.

It means from Monday 3 August restaurants, cafes, bars and hairdressers in Leicester City can get back to business but leisure centres, gyms and pools will remain closed. In addition, cinemas and museums will open and religious ceremonies will be able to take place.

And on Saturday 1 August, Luton will be brought in line with the rest of the country after significant progress has been made in controlling the virus.

Health and care workers to self-isolate on return to England from high-risk countries

The move brings them in line with the general public and further protects the NHS and social care system from the spread of coronavirus from overseas, as signs of second waves begin to show in other countries.

Following review of whether the measure is still necessary, an exemption has been removed to minimise the risk of onward chains of transmission that might infect the wider workforce.

An exemption was originally put in place, at the beginning of June, which meant registered health and care professionals did not have to self-isolate when travelling to England from overseas.

This was to help ensure health and care workers travelling back from overseas could return to the England to provide essential healthcare, helping to strengthen the country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and save lives.

Following the reopening of travel routes, and as more people begin to holiday abroad, the government has removed this exemption and, from 31 July, all registered health and care professionals must lawfully self-isolate when returning to England from a high-risk country.

The current list of countries exempt from self-isolation measures is available on GOV.UK. The data for all countries and territories is kept under constant review, and the exemptions list is updated with any changes on a regular basis as and when required to reflect the shifting international health picture.

Health and care professionals returning from a country which has a travel corridor to the UK will not be required to self-isolate on return.

This amendment to the regulations will ensure consistency with wider self-isolation measures and continue to protect public health.

Updates to the shielding programme on national and regional levels

From Saturday 1 August, shielding guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable will be paused across England.

This means those who have been shielding over the course of the pandemic will no longer be advised to do so, and can begin to go back to work and school as long as the sites are COVID-secure.

People will also be able to go outside as much as they like, and visit supermarkets, pubs and shops, with social distancing guidelines still strongly advised.

The latest scientific evidence shows that the average incidence across the country remains lower now than the point when the decision was made to proceed with the pausing of shielding nationally. This has allowed for the relaxation of the guidance.

However, the easing of restrictions will not apply for those currently shielding in:

Blackburn with Darwen
Blaby and Charnwood
Leicester City

The government has written out to those living in these areas who are affected setting out the advice that applies locally.

Find out all you need to know about the new job retention scheme

July 22nd

Do you want to find out more about changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and how flexible furloughing can support your business? Join our live webinar, Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and flexible furloughing, for the latest information, including:

• an overview of changes to the scheme, including how you can now bring previously furloughed employees back to work to suit the needs of your business

• an introduction to flexible furloughing and how it works

• examples of how to work out the wages of flexibly furloughed employees

• information on key dates and claims periods

• an overview of upcoming changes to the scheme in August, September and October as the level of the grant is slowly reduced and employers will be asked to contribute towards the cost of furloughed employees’ wages.

If you would like to join, please choose a date and time.

We've also added more dates for the live webinar which explains how to use the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, and gives you the latest information on:

• who can claim

• who you can claim for

• how to make a claim

• what you may be entitled to.

If you would like to join,choose a date and time.

We update our webinars regularly to reflect the latest government guidance and keep you fully informed of changes as they develop.

Membership Organisations and Colleges combine to release Workforce Risk Assessment

July 9th

Interim guidance – workforce risk assessment in primary eye care

1. Background

Employers and self-employed people must assess the health and safety risks at work. This includes an assessment of risk related to Covid-19 infection. Some people are more at risk of contracting and experiencing adverse outcomes of Covid-19 than others and it is important to perform a workforce risk assessment in addition to your workplace risk assessment.

This interim guidance note is based on the evidence of workforce risk available at the time of publication and will be reviewed and updated as more evidence becomes available.

For employers

This guidance is designed to supplement existing Covid-19 guidance. It provides additional background information on performing a workforce risk assessment, drawing on pan UK guidance from the four UK governments, NHS departments and occupational health.

This guidance is intended to support your workplace assessment and infection prevention and control (IPC) measures. For example, the following practice level risk management strategies will help reduce risk for all staff, patients and visitors while at the practice:

• all staff should self-screen for Covid-19 each day before leaving for work
• all staff should follow and comply with IPC measures, including standard precautions and the correct use of PPE
• people with a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19 should not be seen in primary eye care settings – e.g. by triaging patients according to local protocols and directing them to appropriate local services
• the latest guidance on performing aerosol generating procedures (AGPs)in primary eye care settings should be followed.

These and other safe systems measures help reduce the risk of virus transmission for all groups, but you will also need to keep up to date with the emerging evidence for at risk groups and assess whether additional adjustments are required for individual staff members.

For practice owners, directors and self-employed practitioners

If you are a practice owner, director or self-employed, you should undertake a self-assessment.

If you work in multiple settings, consider whether the risk you are exposed to varies as you may need to repeat your self-assessment accordingly. Your workplace will also have a risk assessment and you should support and comply with local policies to help reduce the risk of virus transmission.

For employees

This guidance provides information on workforce risk assessments during the Covid-19 pandemic and highlights what you should expect your employer to do – i.e. both to assess and manage risk generally and for you as an individual.

Employers can perform risk assessments in different ways. In this guidance we suggest all employees are offered a risk assessment. You may find that undertaking a self-assessment of your risk first is a helpful preparation for discussions with your employer.

2. Workforce risk assessment

The Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) advises employers to perform a workforce assessment, so that you can “identify those individuals with potentially increased vulnerability to infection or adverse outcomes from Covid-19”. FOM lists five main factors to consider:

Workforce risl assessment

The reasons why these factors increase risk are not yet fully understood, however the impact of Covid-19 may replicate existing health inequalities and, in some cases, exacerbate them further, particularly for BAME groups .

It is important to remember that local risk assessments do not replace official guidance about clinically extremely vulnerable and vulnerable groups to Covid-19 and how to adapt working arrangements for these groups. For example, this includes but is not limited to:

• clinically extremely vulnerable individuals should not work outside the home at this stage of the pandemic
• at this stage of the pandemic clinically vulnerable individuals should be helped to work from home, either in their current role or in an alternative role or otherwise prioritised for jobs where they can maintain social distancing
• Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidance for employers and pregnant women during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although official lists of at-risk groups include health conditions, age and pregnancy, they do not cover sex or ethnicity. You should ensure you are up-to-date with emerging evidence on these risk factors from reliable sources, such as the FOM, and adapt your risk assessment as needed.

This guidance note will be updated when significant new evidence becomes available on both risk factors and risk management.

In all cases it is important to respect an individual’s confidentiality and not to make any assumptions based on appearance, partial information, history or a protected characteristic. For example, from an employment law perspective it is important to ensure that no one is treated less favourably on grounds of their race or that a provision, criterion or practice is not put in place which puts those in this group at a disadvantage. The shared goal here is to protect staff, so this should not become an issue. It is nevertheless important to encourage open feedback to ensure measures put in place to protect staff have the optimal affect and do not inadvertently disadvantage anybody based on a protected characteristic.

Conducting a risk assessment

Although it can be difficult to engage in conversations about known and potential Covid-19 risks, it is important for employers to reduce barriers to raising and sharing concerns, especially linked to protected characteristics, and to make time for sensitive and responsive conversations.

At the same time, a balance does need to be struck, so that members of staff are not required to discuss any health or other conditions they choose not to discuss. If a staff member does not want to discuss their health condition they should not be forced to.

The goal is always to work collaboratively and openly so you can perform an effective risk assessment and make any necessary adjustments.

Finally, when making these assessments, you need to comply with your wider duties to those with protected characteristics. You can do this by asking all employees to review and complete a risk assessment form (see Section 4).

3. Actions to take following a risk assessment

During the pandemic, a workplace risk assessment should result in implementing rigorous infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, including the correct use of PPE and social distancing, for all employees in primary eye care settings.

The College of Optometrists advises that where appropriate PPE is not available, face-to-face care within 2m should be postponed or patients should be signposted as clinically necessary to an alternative provider with appropriate PPE.

Other risk reduction measures for all employees should include, but is not limited to:

• Limiting the duration of close interaction with patients by only conducting clinically necessary tests and examinations.
• Asking that the patient attends any face to face consultation unaccompanied where possible.

This means that, following an individual risk assessment you might find that no additional precautions are necessary. Where individuals are at greater risk, you might introduce further risk reduction measures, such as:

1. Redeploying staff at very high risk to activities that require less face to face contact with patients, for example:

i. Prioritising telemedicine and triage clinics for clinicians at very high risk.
ii. Encouraging remote working where possible.

2. Enabling staff at high risk to avoid the busiest times on public transport through adjustments to work hours.

3. Providing or signposting to additional support on topics such as wellbeing, chaplaincy/faith advice and counselling, as well as practical help where possible.

Workforce risk assessments should be reviewed whenever there are any significant changes, such as new guidance on at risk groups, work equipment, work activities, or a change in an individual’s personal circumstances.

We also recommend that you keep a record of the risk assessment and include example templates in Section 4 to support this. As the risk assessment includes reference to workers’ health conditions, it should be treated as sensitive information under data protection legislation (including GDPR) and managed appropriately.

All team members should be encouraged to inform their employer (such as their occupational health team or manager) if there are any changes to their health or circumstances that may affect the risk assessment.

4. Risk assessment templates

An example risk assessment template is included in Appendix 1. This is based on existing official extremely clinically vulnerable and clinically vulnerable criteria in the UK, but also includes other factors that might be considered. The template will be updated if official recommendations change. The template does not include a risk scoring mechanism as there is currently no robust, validated and peer-reviewed scoring mechanism for Covid-19 risk .

Appendix 2 includes links to other risk assessment tools that have been developed for various health and social care professions and risk assessment resources.

5. Covid-19 guidance

You should read this workforce risk assessment alongside Covid-19 guidance from your representative and professional bodies. We appreciate that implementing these measures might involve complex employment law and health and safety considerations. If you need additional support and advice:
FODO members can email or call 01244 688422.
College members can contact Clinical Advisors at
AOP members can email
ABOD members can email

6. Share feedback on this guidance

The goal of this tool is to help assess risk and protect staff. If you have feedback on this interim guidance note or the template risk assessment tool in Appendix 1, please share it with us by leaving feedback here.

Appendix 1: Confidential Covid-19 Personnel Risk Assessment

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to carry out a risk assessment to assess your work and working environment so that you are not placed at risk at work including during the coronavirus pandemic.

Your co-operation in completing this form is appreciated. The form is for health and safety purposes only. The information will be treated as confidential and used to ensure that any potential hazards to which you are exposed are evaluated and managed.

Employers and employees might be interested in an objective scoring model that has been developed and submitted for peer-review.  Although still pending peer-review, it provides a suggested objective risk stratification tool for people not already on official clinically vulnerable and extremely vulnerable lists in the UK.

Information taken from the latest UK wide government guidance as of 6 July 2020 .

Position: ..............................................................................
Location: .............................................................................

Coronavirus (Covid-19) can make anyone seriously ill. But for some people, the risk is higher. This table is designed to help us better understand your individual risk so that we can work with you to find ways to manage any risk while at work.


Notes: enter text HERE .

Employee signed:
Date: enter a date.

Line manager signed:
Date: enter a date.

Updates: enter a date.
enter text.

enter a date.
enter text.

Appendix 2: Risk assessment tools and resources

The British Medical Association (BMA) has now endorsed this Covid-19 risk assessment tool which includes a self-scoring assessment tool.

Faculty of Occupational Medicine Risk Reduction Framework for NHS staff at risk of COVID-19 infection.

All Wales COVID-19Workforce Risk Assessment Tool []. The tool is a work in progress and will be improved and developed based on feedback from employers and employees using it.
RCN Position on Employer Responsibilities for BAME staff:
NHS Employers guidance:
NHS trade unions principles for risk assessment:

Royal College of Psychiatrists COVID-19 Guidance on risk mitigation for BAME staff in mental healthcare settings:

Guys & St Thomas’ resources

In addition, the Health and Safety Executive has information about managing risks and risk assessment at work, which includes templates

Leicestershire coronavirus lockdown: areas and changes

July 1st

Areas of Leicestershire that are included in the localised coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown and what this means.On 29 June, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock set out the local action being taken in Leicester following a surge in coronavirus cases in the area.

This morning, the local councils set out the following areas of Leicestershire that are included in the localised lockdown:
in Blaby District:

Braunstone Town (including Fosse Park)
Glen Parva
Leicester Forest East (east of the M1)
Thorpe Astley
in Charnwood:
all areas of Oadby and Wigston

Changes in the Leicester areaLeicestershire Lockdown Map

Within this boundary, restrictions will be put in place pending a review from 18 July.

This means:

non-essential shops that reopened on 15 June have been asked to close from today (30 June)
bars, restaurants and hairdressers will not reopen on 4 July
schools will close from Thursday 2 July except to vulnerable children and children of key workers. They will not reopen until next term
the relaxation of shielding measures due on 6 July cannot now take place in Leicester
single-adult households (those who live alone or with dependent children only) can still form a support bubble with one other household
people are still able to meet in a group of up to 6 and only outdoors, provided strict social distancing is followed
people in Leicester are recommended to stay at home as much as they can
we advise against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester

New saliva test for coronavirus piloted in Southampton

June 22nd

A weekly coronavirus (COVID-19) testing model using a new ‘no-swab’ saliva test is to be piloted in Southampton from this week (22 June).

New coronavirus saliva test to be trialled in Southampton

Weekly tests can be completed by transferring saliva into a sample pot
Over 14,000 GP staff, other essential key workers and university staff and their households will participate in the first phase of the trial
Participants will be able to complete coronavirus tests at home by putting their saliva into a sample pot to be tested for current infections of the virus.
GP staff, other essential key workers, university employees and members of their households will be among the first groups to participate in the pilot, with test kits delivered either to their home or place of work for them to complete every week.

Samples will be collected safely from homes by University of Southampton staff or returned to an agreed location on a weekly basis and participants will receive test results within 48 hours.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: " Saliva testing could potentially make it even easier for people to take coronavirus tests at home, without having to use swabs. This trial will also help us learn if routine, at-home testing could pick up cases of the virus earlier. I am very grateful to everyone involved in the trial who is helping us develop our understanding of the virus which will benefit not only our but the global response to it.

The new saliva test will be significant to increasing testing capacity and accessibility as it does not require the use of a swab, which some people find uncomfortable. The test has already been shown to be highly promising and the pilot is undertaking further validation against polymerase chain reaction (PCR) nasal swabs.

Weekly testing as part of the pilot will help to identify coronavirus cases early on, including for those with no or minor symptoms, meaning those who test positive can isolate within their households. The details of those who test positive will be shared with the NHS Test and Trace programme so contact tracing can start immediately.

This comes on top of the routine testing of asymptomatic staff in health and care settings already taking place using existing testing capacity.

The pilot will be jointly led by Southampton City Council, the University of Southampton and the NHS, alongside a wider network of public services in Hampshire.

In addition to the new application of using saliva from Optigene being piloted in Southampton, we are currently exploring the potential of other no-swab saliva-based coronavirus tests with companies, including Chronomics, Avacta, MAP Science and Oxford Nanoimaging (ONI). We are also working with a number of suppliers, including DNA Genotek, International Scientific Supplies Ltd, Isohelix and other leading manufacturers, to develop bespoke saliva collection kits and scale up manufacturing for products that can be used with existing PCR tests.

World first coronavirus treatment approved for NHS use by government

June 2020

The government has immediately authorised the NHS to use the world’s first coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death.

Ground-breaking coronavirus treatment approved for use across the NHS from today

Government-funded UK trial showed drug saved lives by significantly reducing risk of death in hospitalised patients who require oxygen

Government ensures drug is available across all NHS healthcare settings and across the whole of the UK with immediate effect

Thousands of lives will be saved in the UK with the government immediately authorising the NHS to use the world’s first coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death.

Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug, has been immediately approved to treat all UK hospitalised COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen, including those on ventilators, from today.

Whole home testing rolled out to all care homes in England

June 6th

Every care home in England will now be offered a coronavirus test for all residents and staff, even if they have no symptoms.

Adult care homes for under-65s, including those with learning disabilities or mental health problems will be offered testing, regardless of whether residents have symptoms

New social care sector COVID-19 support taskforce set up to continue supporting the care sector and prevent further transmission

New taskforce to be headed up by newly appointed Chair, David Pearson CBE

The government is extending whole care home testing to all adult care homes after meeting the target of offering a test to every care home for over-65s and those with dementia in England by 6 June.

Since the launch of whole care home testing, the government has provided 1,071,103 test kits to 8,984 care homes, and we are now able to send out over 50,000 test kits a day.

As Government imposes compulsory face masks and PPE for every worker in hospitals, they announce new PPE UK deals

June 5th

New UK deals will bring millions more PPE items to frontline healthcare staff. Millions more visors, aprons and gowns will be delivered to frontline health and social care workers treating coronavirus patients, manufactured in response to the UK government’s call to arms.

Four more companies answer government’s call to arms to manufacture PPE Millions more visors, aprons and gowns to be delivered over the next few months

New contracts are part of the government’s ‘Make’ initiative to harness UK production power

As part of the government’s Make initiative to use the production power of the UK’s world-leading manufacturing sector, 4 new partnerships have been struck to rapidly produce and deliver PPE to frontline workers over the coming months.

Face masks and coverings to be worn by all NHS hospital staff and visitors

All staff in hospitals in England will be provided with surgical masks which they will be expected to wear from 15 June. All visitors and outpatients must wear face coverings at all times.

Evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) previously confirmed face coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission if you are suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms.

NHS staff already wear face masks in clinical areas within 2 metres of a patient, but this new guidance applies to everyone working in all areas of the hospital.

Members of the public are strongly urged to attend hospital wearing a face covering, but a face mask will be provided in emergencies.

Government launches NHS Test and Trace service

May 2020

New guidance means those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.
Published 27 May 2020

NHS Test and Trace service to form a central part of the government’s coronavirus recovery strategy

Anyone with symptoms will be tested and their close contacts will be traced

New guidance means those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms, to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus
The new NHS Test and Trace service will launch tomorrow (Thursday 28 May) across England, the government announced.

The service will help identify, contain and control coronavirus, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.

From today, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes.

People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus.
If those in isolation develop symptoms, they can book a test at or by calling 119. If they test positive, they must continue to stay at home for 7 days or until their symptoms have passed. If they test negative, they must complete the 14-day isolation period.

Members of their household will not have to stay at home unless the person identified becomes symptomatic, at which point they must also self-isolate for 14 days to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:" As we move to the next stage of our fight against coronavirus, we will be able to replace national lockdowns with individual isolation and, if necessary, local action where there are outbreaks. NHS Test and Trace will be vital to stopping the spread of the virus. It is how we will be able to protect our friends and family from infection, and protect our NHS.
This new system will help us keep this virus under control while carefully and safely lifting the lockdown nationally."

NHS Test and Trace brings together 4 tools to control the virus:

test: increasing availability and speed of testing will underpin NHS Test and Trace.

trace: when someone tests positive for coronavirus the NHS Test and Trace service will use dedicated contact tracing staff, online services and local public health experts to identify any close recent contacts they’ve had and alert those most at risk of having the virus who need to self-isolate. This will be complemented by the rollout of the NHS COVID-19 App in the coming weeks.

contain: a national Joint Biosecurity Centre will work with local authorities and public health teams in Public Health England (PHE), including local Directors of Public Health, to identify localised outbreaks and support effective local responses, including plans to quickly deploy testing facilities to particular locations. Local authorities have been supported by £300 million of new funding to help local authorities develop their own local outbreak control plans.

enable: government to learn more about the virus, including as the science develops, to explore how we could go further in easing infection control measures.

The NHS Test and Trace service, including 25,000 dedicated contact tracing staff working with Public Health England, will have the capacity to trace the contacts of 10,000 people who test positive for coronavirus per day and can be scaled up if needed.

The rollout of the NHS Test and Trace service has been made possible by the rapid expansion of testing. The largest network of diagnostic testing facilities in British history has been created and will soon have the capacity to carry out 200,000 tests a day. This includes 50 drive-through sites, more than 100 mobile testing units and 3 mega laboratories.

People who are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service will be given clear information explaining what they must do and how they can access local support if needed. Guidance is also available online at This comes as the Department for Work and Pensions has announced that those having to self-isolate will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay if they are unable to work from home. This applies across the 4 nations of the UK.

Dido Harding, Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace, said:" This is a brand new service which has been launched at incredible speed and scale. NHS Test and Trace already employs over 40,000 people, both directly and through trusted partners, who are working hard to deliver both testing and contact tracing at scale. This is no small achievement and I am hugely grateful to everyone involved.
NHS Test and Trace will not succeed on its own – we all need to play our part. This is why we are working hand-in-hand with communities and local authorities across the country to tailor support at a local level, and respond quickly to local needs. And we will be constantly developing and improving as we go. Together we can help contain the virus, stop it spreading further and ultimately save lives."

The government has also today expanded testing availability for children aged under 5, to help support the phased opening of schools and childcare settings in England from 1 June. From tomorrow, all symptomatic individuals in England will be able to access a test if they need one, with all symptomatic individuals in Wales able to book tests from Saturday.

Anyone with a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a change in their sense of smell or taste is asked to immediately report these symptoms and book a test at

A package of £300 million of new funding has been made available to local authorities to work with NHS Test and Trace to develop local outbreak control plans, building on the work already done so far to respond to coronavirus. Their plans will focus on identifying and containing potential outbreaks in places such as workplaces, housing complexes, care homes and schools, ensuring testing capacity is deployed effectively and helping the most vulnerable in self-isolation access essential services in their area. A new Local Government Advisory Board has also been established to support this work.

Professor John Newton, National Coordinator of Test and Trace, said:" At this critical point in the nation’s response to coronavirus we are launching a service that will enable us to emerge more safely from lockdown. To control the virus we still need to continue with social distancing and good hygiene, but we also now have a comprehensive test and trace service to stop new cases spreading. This approach will allow us to gradually return to more normal personal, social and economic lives while recognising that we have to stay alert and respond rapidly to any advice from the new service."

Local Authority test and trace support announced.

May 2020

£300 million additional funding for local authorities to support new test and trace service

Local authorities will be central to supporting the new test and trace service in England, with the government providing a new funding package of £300 million.

Local authorities to work with government to support test and trace services in their local communities

£300 million will be provided to all local authorities in England to develop and action their plans to reduce the spread of the virus in their area. Work will build on the continued efforts of communities across the country to respond to the pandemic locally

Local authorities will be central to supporting the new test and trace service across England, with the government providing a new funding package of £300 million.

Each local authority will be given funding to develop tailored outbreak control plans, working with local NHS and other stakeholders.

Work on the plans will start immediately. Their plans will focus on identifying and containing potential outbreaks in places such as workplaces, housing complexes, care homes and schools.
As part of this work, local authorities will also need to ensure testing capacity is deployed effectively to high-risk locations. Local authorities will work closely with the test and trace service, local NHS and other partners to achieve this.

Data on the virus’s spread will be shared with local authorities through the Joint Biosecurity Centre to inform local outbreak planning, so teams understand how the virus is moving, working with national government where necessary to access the testing and tracing capabilities of the new service.

Local communities, organisations and individuals will also be encouraged to follow government guidance and assist those self-isolating in their area who need help. This will include encouraging neighbours to offer support and identifying and working with relevant community groups.

Government to offer antibody tests to health and social care staff and patients in England

May 2020

New antibody testing programme to provide tens of thousands of antibody tests per day across the UK from next week.

All NHS and care staff in England will be offered a test, with patients and care residents eligible at their clinician’s request

Accurate and reliable lab-based antibody tests will improve understanding and data on COVID-19

Devolved administrations will decide who is eligible for tests in their jurisdictions

Antibody tests will be available to NHS and care staff, eligible patients and care residents in England to see if they have had coronavirus as part of a new national antibody testing programme announced by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.

Tests will be prioritised for NHS and care staff, and clinicians will be able to request them for patients in both hospital and social care settings if they deem it appropriate.

The new antibody testing programme, which will start next week, follows the substantial expansion of the UK’s swab testing capacity, which saw the creation of the country’s biggest network of diagnostic labs completed in record time. Swab testing confirms whether or not someone currently has the virus that causes COVID-19.

Under the new programme announced today, highly accurate laboratory based antibody tests will be used to tell whether someone has already had the virus, to provide accurate data about the antibodies they have developed in response. The information will help clinicians and scientists to better understand the prevalence of the virus in different regions across the country.

Government begins large scale study of coronavirus immunity

May 18th

Antibody testing will help to understand levels of immunity and the role of genetics

Up to 20,000 people of all ages and walks of life to take part for at least 6 months

Up to 20,000 people are being asked to take part in a new government-funded study to further track the extent of the coronavirus spread across England, Scotland and Wales.
The research will measure blood antibodies to help determine what proportion of the population has already had the infection, the duration of immunity after being infected, and why the virus affects people differently.

Led by UK Biobank and supported by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), the study, which was developed with the Wellcome Trust, also draws on the world-leading scientific expertise of the University of Oxford. It forms part of Pillar 4 of the Government’s COVID-19 testing strategy to conduct UK-wide surveillance testing to learn more about the spread of the virus.

In total, 20,000 thousand people will take part. The study participants will be chosen from existing, consented UK Biobank volunteers, as well as their adult children and grandchildren. This is the first time UK Biobank has opened up a research study to the next generation of participants, which will help to ensure that all regions, ages and socio-economic groups are represented .

Each month, participants will be asked to provide a sample of blood using a finger‐prick device, and to complete a short questionnaire about any relevant symptoms they may have experienced. The de-identified samples will be returned to UK Biobank for processing before being sent for validated antibody testing at the University of Oxford.

This information will help inform future Government strategy on the ongoing response to the virus, including lockdown and social distancing measures. The first results from initial participants are expected to be available in early June.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: " Our response to this pandemic is rightly guided by the science and based on the best available evidence - so I’m determined to do everything we can to learn more about coronavirus."

This UK Biobank study will build our understanding of the rate of COVID-19 infection in the general population and, importantly, it will add to our knowledge about the risk factors that mean the virus can affect individuals differently.

Alongside the ongoing ONS and Imperial College research, the results of this study will assist our virus modelling and inform future plans for managing the pandemic.

Established by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, UK Biobank has been following the health of 500,000 UK participants over the last 10 years through detailed health records, genetic and lifestyle data. As a result, it is uniquely well-placed to investigate whether the immune response to coronavirus differs between people with different genetic backgrounds.

Coronavirus: UK furlough scheme extended to October with part-time work allowed

May 12th 2020

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until end of October, furloughed workers across UK will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500
new flexibility will be introduced from August to get employees back to work and boost economy

In a boost to millions of jobs and businesses, Rishi Sunak said the furlough scheme would be extended by a further four months with workers continuing to receive 80% of their current salary.

As we reopen the economy, we need to support people to get back to work. From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.

The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: " Our Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has protected millions of jobs and businesses across the UK during the outbreak – and I’ve been clear that I want to avoid a cliff edge and get people back to work in a measured way.
This extension and the changes we are making to the scheme will give flexibility to businesses while protecting the livelihoods of the British people and our future economic prospects."

New statistics published today revealed the job retention scheme has protected 7.5 million workers and almost 1 million businesses.

The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July and the changes to allow more flexibility will come in from the start of August. More specific details and information around its implementation will be made available by the end of this month.

The government will explore ways through which furloughed workers who wish to do additional training or learn new skills are supported during this period. It will also continue to work closely with the Devolved
Administrations to ensure the scheme supports people across the Union.

The Chancellor’s decision to extend the scheme, which will continue to apply across all regions and sectors in the UK economy, comes after the government outlined its plan for the next phase of its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The scheme is just one part of the government’s world-leading economic response to coronavirus, including an unprecedented package for the self-employed, loans and guarantees that have so far provided billions of pounds in support, tax deferrals and grants for small businesses.

Today the government is also publishing new statistics that show businesses have benefitted from over £14 billion in loans and guarantees to support their cashflow during the crisis. This includes 268,000 Bounce Back Loans worth £8.3 billion, 36,000 loans worth over £6 billion through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and £359 million through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: " The Job Retention Scheme is a lifeline which has been hugely beneficial in helping small employers keep their staff in work, and it’s extension is welcome. Small employers have told us that part-time furloughing will help them recover from this crisis and it is welcome that new flexibility is announced today.

BCC Director General Adam Marshall said: " The extension of the Job Retention Scheme will come as a huge help and a huge relief for businesses across the UK.
The Chancellor is once again listening to what we’ve been saying, and the changes planned will help businesses bring their people back to work through the introduction of a part-time furlough scheme. We will engage with the Treasury and HMRC on the detail to ensure that this gives companies the flexibility they need to reopen safely.

Over the coming months, the government should continue to listen to business and evolve the scheme in line with what’s happening on the ground. Further support may yet be needed for companies who are unable to operate for an extended period, or those who face reduced capacity or demand due to ongoing restrictions."

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: " The Chancellor is confronting a challenging balancing act deftly. As economic activity slowly speeds up, it’s essential that support schemes adapt in parallel.
Extending the furlough to avoid a June cliff-edge continues the significant efforts made already and will protect millions of jobs.
Introducing much needed flexibility is extremely welcome. It will prepare the ground for firms that are reawakening, while helping those who remain in hibernation. That’s essential as the UK economy revives step-by-step, while supporting livelihoods. Firms will, of course, want more detail on how they will contribute to the scheme in the future and will work with government to get this right.
Above all, the path of the virus is unpredictable, and much change still lies ahead. The government must continue to keep a watchful eye on those industries and employees that remain at risk. All schemes will need to be kept under review to help minimise impacts on people’s livelihoods and keep businesses thriving.
The greater the number of good businesses saved now, the easier it will be for the economy to recover."

The public is advised to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as shops, trains and buses to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

May 2020

People who use public transport or visit shops should consider covering their mouth and nose based on advice from SAGE

Face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing and regular handwashing which remain the most important actions, says Chief Medical Officer

Public urged not to buy medical grade masks so they can be saved for frontline health and care workers, and instead make their own face coverings at home

The public is advised to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces where you may be more likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, the government announced today.
After careful consideration of the latest scientific evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), the government confirmed face coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances.

Face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease if you are suffering from coronavirus but not showing symptoms. People with coronavirus symptoms, as well as members of their household, should continue to follow the advice to self-isolate.

They may be beneficial in places where it is hard to follow maintain social distancing measures. This applies when using public transport, such as trains, buses and metro systems, or when visiting shops.

They do not need to be worn outdoors, while exercising, in schools, in workplaces such as offices and retail, by those who may find them difficult to wear, such as children under two or primary aged children who
cannot use them without assistance, or those who may have problems breathing while wearing a face covering.

The public is being strongly urged not to purchase surgical masks or respirators. These are prioritised for healthcare workers working in more high-risk environments where the risk is greatest.

Instead the public is encouraged to make face coverings at home, using scarves or other textile items that many will already own. Read the guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face covering.
Health Minister Jo Churchill said:" At all times our strategy for keeping the public and the NHS safe during this crisis has been guided by the science.
Today, thanks to the evidence provided by our expert scientists, we are advising people to consider wearing a face covering if they can in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is impossible, for example on public transport or in shops. This may help prevent you spreading the virus to others.
You do not need a clinical mask which is prioritised for our healthcare workers. Instead a face covering is sufficient and we encourage people to make these at home with items they will already own."

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer said: "Wearing a face covering is an added precaution that may have some benefit in reducing the likelihood that a person with the infection passes it on.
The most effective means of preventing the spread of this virus remains following social distancing rules and washing your hands regularly. It does not remove the need to self-isolate if you have symptoms.
COVID-19 can be spread directly by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces by touch and subsequently from touching the face. That is why hand hygiene is so important in controlling the infection.
Evidence shows a face covering can help in reducing the spread of droplets and therefore potentially infecting others, and could help to reduce the spread of infection as lockdown measures start to be lifted. It is important people refrain from touching their face covering when wearing it, where possible, to avoid hand to mask transmission of the virus."

Government will not be supplying face coverings centrally as at home items and fabrics readily available on the market can be used, but it is important to wash them after every use.

Research from the WHO showed that where masks were recommended for prolonged periods of time, some wearers failed to maintain good handwashing practices or follow social distancing policies, putting others at risk. As England has demonstrated strong adherence to social distancing, the government is confident face coverings can be recommended as an added precaution in certain environments rather than an essential part of social distancing policies.

For workers in various sectors, or in public transport, the government is advising they continue to follow the advice of their employers and make sensible workplace adjustments. Further guidance on safer workplaces and on transport will be published shortly.

Government has produced guidance for employees and in it they emphasise and reassure employers that for the majority the most effective way they can ensure that their employees are safe at work is to make sensible workplace adjustments, including erecting perspex screens which many supermarkets have already introduced.

Face coverings do not need to be worn in schools.

Government launches new portal for care homes to arrange coronavirus testing

Published 11 May 2020

All care home staff and residents are now eligible for testing with priority for those in homes that look after the over-65s.

A new online portal that makes it easy for care homes to arrange deliveries of coronavirus test kits has been launched today.

As the national testing capacity has increased, the government is prioritising testing for care homes and other areas with the greatest need.

All symptomatic and asymptomatic care home staff and residents in England are now eligible for testing. Testing will be prioritised for care homes that look after the over 65s.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: " The additional testing capacity we have achieved delivers many thousands of tests a day for residents and staff in care homes.
This new portal allows those who book tests for staff and residents to do so even more easily, and it also offers a route for the prioritisation of care homes with the greatest need.
We will continue to grow our testing capacity, as we know the certainty and confidence that high quality testing can provide."

Minister of State for Care Helen Whately said: " Care homes are on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 and we are determined that staff have everything they need to keep themselves and their residents safe. Testing is a crucial part of this. It helps prevent and control outbreaks and means steps can be taken to reduce the spread the virus and protect the most vulnerable.
By prioritising thousands of tests for care home staff and residents, we can target our national testing capacity in the areas and care homes with the greatest need."

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is working with local authority Directors of Public Health, Directors of Adult Social Services and local NHS providers to deliver this testing programme for care homes.

Tens of thousands of care home workers and residents have already been tested, either by Public Health England or at drive-through testing sites, mobile testing units and via satellite testing kits - packages of tests sent to care homes for staff to use on residents.

Testing asymptomatic workers helps prevent and control outbreaks. It means those who test positive can be isolated, reducing the number of people who can spread the virus and protecting the most vulnerable. It also helps to build up a strategic understanding of the prevalence of the virus in local areas and the sector as a whole.  

Test results for residents will be communicated to the care home managers. This information will also be provided to councils in order to help manage coronavirus outbreaks in local areas.

Coronavirus test, track and trace plan launched on Isle of Wight

May 5th 2020

Isle of Wight residents will be the first to get access to a new contact tracing app as part of government action to minimise the spread of COVID-19.

Isle of Wight announced as first phase of new ‘test, track and trace’ programme

Rollout of NHS COVID-19 App to begin with the island’s NHS and council staff tomorrow, with all island residents to get access from Thursday

Data privacy and security paramount, with National Cyber Security Centre involved in app development

The app will be complemented by enhanced contact tracing using existing methods online and over the phone

Isle of Wight residents will be the first to be offered access to a new contact tracing app, as part of government action to test, track and trace to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and move towards safely reducing lockdown measures.

Everyone on the island will receive access to the official NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app from this Thursday, with NHS and council staff able to download from 4pm tomorrow, Tuesday 5 May.
Part of a new test, track and trace programme, the app will work together with enhanced contact tracing services and swab testing for those with potential COVID-19 symptoms to help minimise the spread of COVID-19.

Developed by NHSX, the technology arm of the health service, and a team of world-leading scientists and doctors, the app is designed to significantly speed up contact tracing, helping reduce the chance of the virus spreading by enabling us to rapidly identify people most at risk of infection so they can take action to protect themselves, the people they care about and the NHS.

When someone reports symptoms through the app, it will detect any other app users that the person has been in significant contact with over the past few days, including unknown contacts such as someone they may have sat next to on public transport. The app will be able to anonymously alert these contacts and provide advice, including how to get a test to confirm whether or not they do have COVID-19. Users will be able order tests through the app shortly.

For those who may not have access to the app, or the ability to use a smartphone, there will be an option to report symptoms and order tests in other ways. As the integrated service develops, everyone who reports symptoms, including app users, will also be asked to record recent contacts using an online service (or through a telephone interview if they prefer), so that contact tracers can reach all contacts who may be at risk, whether or not those contacts are app users. Contacts will then be alerted either by the app or by email or telephone, advising them to self-isolate or offering public health advice.

As the test, track and trace programme rolls out nationally, expected in mid-May, Public Health England will oversee the deployment of 18,000 additional contact tracers to support the programme.

This first phase is a major step forward in the government’s next phase of the coronavirus strategy and will improve understanding of how this new integrated approach to test, track and trace will work for the rest of the population.

NHS and council staff will be emailed a download link on Tuesday afternoon. From Thursday the app will then open for all residents on the Isle of Wight. All households will receive a leaflet with clear instructions on how to download and use the app on Thursday, and a targeted marketing campaign will begin on Friday.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:"The Isle of Wight is playing a vital role with this pioneering work to help keep Britain safe. This will pave the way for a nationwide roll-out when the time is right. Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our country has ever faced and this app will play a vital role in getting Britain back on her feet.

" The app will help control the spread of coronavirus by alerting people they may have come into contact with it and recommending appropriate action.
This ground-breaking technology, combined with our heroic frontline health and social care staff, and both a nationwide contact tracing testing programme will ensure that we remain in the best position to move toward easing the lockdown."

Matthew Gould, Chief Executive of NHSX, said: "Technology can help us get the country back on its feet. By launching the NHS COVID-19 app we can reduce transmission of the virus by alerting people who may have been exposed, so they can take action to protect themselves, the people they care about and the NHS. When combined with testing and enhanced web and phone contact tracing, this will help the country return to normality and beat coronavirus"

Coronavirus testing extended to all essential workers in England who have symptoms

All essential workers in England and members of their households who are showing symptoms of coronavirus will now be able to get tested.

The biggest widening of access to coronavirus testing made possible due to substantially increased testing capacity

Essential workers with coronavirus symptoms can get tested, helping them return to work if test is negative

Broad range of testing methods being rolled-out to increase accessibility, including home testing kits, mobile testing sites and satellite testing kits

New campaign to provide clear information for essential workers on how to get a test

All essential workers in England, and members of their households who are showing symptoms of coronavirus will now be able to get tested, the government has announced.

This will mean individuals and people they live with will have the reassurance of knowing whether their symptoms are caused by coronavirus and can decide whether they are well enough to return to work.

A new campaign will help essential workers in England - including NHS and care staff, teachers, hospital cleaners, public servants, the emergency services, supermarket staff, delivery drivers, and other critical infrastructure staff - to access testing.

Booking the test has been made simpler via a new online system. From today, employers can register and refer self-isolating staff, and from tomorrow employees will be able to book a test directly for themselves or members of their household who are experiencing symptoms – a high temperature or new continuous cough.

This will speed up the process of getting an appointment and take the burden off employers, helping reach everyone who has symptoms at the earliest opportunity.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “We have already prioritised testing for patients and health and social care workers and other key workers today I can go further.
We are making it easier, faster and simpler for any essential worker in England who needs a test to get a test. From today, employers of essential workers will be able to go on GOV.UK to get a test for any of their staff who need a test. And from tomorrow, any essential workers who need a test will be able to book an appointment on GOV.UK themselves directly."

“This all applies for people in essential workers’ households who need a test too. It’s all part of getting Britain back on her feet.”

Essential workers using the new portal can enter their details and will then receive a text or email the same day inviting them to either book an appointment at one of more than 30 drive-through testing sites across the country, or receive a home testing kit.

Test results from the drive-through sites will be sent out by text within 48 hours, and within 72 hours of collection of the home delivery tests.

The aim is that most people should not have to drive for more than 45 minutes to get to a regional testing site. However, additional testing methods are being rolled-out to support testing accessibility:

A network of new mobile testing units is being rapidly established. These will travel the country to reach care homes, police stations, prisons and other sites where there is demand for testing. The units have been designed to clinical requirements by army engineers and can be easily set up in under 20 minutes.

The new mobile units will work alongside the drive-through test sites, together sending thousands of patient samples to the network of Lighthouse Labs, to rapidly increase the number of tests completed each day.

A delivery service for home testing kits has been designed with key industry partners, including Royal Mail and Amazon. The home delivery service will come on line from tomorrow. The availability of home testing kits will initially be limited, but more will become available soon. This will ensure those not able to travel to a test centre can still take the test, find out their results and return to work if possible.

Working with Public Health England, the Care Quality Commission and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the government is sending packages of ‘satellite’ test kits directly to care homes across England, to enable testing of symptomatic residents.

Since the beginning of April, the government has significantly increased the UK’s coronavirus testing capacity and is on track to provide 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month.

The 3 new Lighthouse Labs in Milton Keynes, Glasgow and Alderley Park in Cheshire are increasing the country’s capacity to test for coronavirus, with each site scaling up to test tens of thousands of patient samples each day. Each individual site took just 3 weeks to complete and begin testing, staffed by an army of highly qualified staff and volunteers from industry and academia across the country.


 Live Webinars available as tutorials for understanding CJRS payments, but limited so hurry.

As part of the government’s commitment to provide support to businesses and employers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, HMRC have been offering live webinars on the Job Retention Scheme.

The following live webinar provides an overview of the support available to help employers and your employees deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Places are extremely limited so please save your place now.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Job Retention Scheme

During this webinar we’ll be taking a look at:
• furloughed workers
• who can apply for the scheme
• following the rules of the scheme
• how much may be claimed
• how to claim and what you’ll need to claim.

Choose a date and time

If you’ve missed any of our other recent webinars, or have been unable to join, you can now view a recording on HMRC’s YouTube channel.

Prepare to make a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

April 17

HMRC are now writing to tell you how and when to access the system with some more information about what you will need to have ready before the system goes live.

We are also updating you on an important change to the scheme relating to employee eligibility:

• you can claim for employees that were employed as of 19 March 2020 and were on your PAYE payroll on or before that date; this means that you will have made an RTI submission notifying us of payment of that employee on or before 19 March 2020

• employees that were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll (i.e. notified to us on an RTI submission on or before 28 February) and were made redundant or stopped working for you after that, and prior to 19 March 2020, can also qualify for the scheme if you re-employ them and put them on furlough.

More information on this can be found on GOV.UK.

How to claim

As you prepare to make a claim, please note:

• the online claim service will be launched on GOV.UK on 20 April 2020 – please do not try to access it before this date as it won’t be available
• the only way to make a claim is online – the service should be simple to use and any support you need available on GOV.UK; this will include help with calculating the amount you can claim
• you can make the claim yourself even if you usually use an agent
• claims will be paid within 6 working days; you should not contact us unless it is absolutely necessary – any queries should be directed to your agent, representative or our webchat service
• we cannot answer any queries from employees – they will need to raise these with you, as their employer, directly.

Information you will need before you make a claim

In addition to the information in our previous email, you will need to have the following before 20 April 2020:

• a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply for one online, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for 'HMRC services: sign in or register'
• be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can do so now, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for 'PAYE Online for employers'
• the following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for:

1. Name.
2. National Insurance number.
3. Claim period and claim amount.
4. PAYE/employee number (optional).

• if you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff – you will need to input information directly into the system for each employee
• if you have 100 or more furloughed staff – you will need to upload a file with information for each employee; we will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.


Coronavirus (COVID-19): personal protective equipment (PPE) hub

Latest Guidance and new PPE Hub

Guidance about coronavirus (COVID-19) personal protective equipment (PPE).
Last updated 12 April 2020 —

This guidance contains information on personal protective equipment (PPE), and infection prevention and control (IPC).

We are currently experiencing sustained transmission of COVID-19 across the UK.

More guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found on our main guidance page.

View the government’s UK-wide personal protective equipment plan.

Health and social care settings

Those most at risk within the UK are professionals working in health and social care sectors.

This because these sectors are responsible for providing essential treatment and care for those who are confirmed to have COVID-19, are symptomatic or are highly vulnerable. They are in prolonged close contact with individuals who are symptomatic or particularly vulnerable to infection.

The UK government and devolved administrations published clear guidance on appropriate PPE for health and social care workers. This has been written and reviewed by all 4 UK public health bodies and informed by NHS infection prevention control experts. Our guidance is consistent with World Health Organization (WHO) guidance for protecting health and social care workers from COVID-19.
COVID-19: infection prevention and control (IPC)

12 April 2020 Guidance

COVID-19: infection prevention and control (IPC)
12 April 2020 Guidance
COVID-19: personal protective equipment use for aerosol generating procedures
10 April 2020 Guidance
COVID-19: personal protective equipment use for non-aerosol generating procedures
8 April 2020 Guidance

Non-health and social care settings

For other workers and sectors, based on current evidence, there is very little scientific evidence of widespread benefit from PPE. Instead, practising good hand hygiene and social distancing is key to minimising the risk of infection.

We emphasise and reassure employers that for the majority the most effective way they can ensure that their employees are safe at work is to:

where possible, alter business-as-usual ways of working to ensure social distancing can take place. In some circumstances this could involve the erection of physical ‘splash barriers’ to decrease staff anxiety, or redesign of customer flows to minimise contact opportunities

ensure staff are aware and signs are visible in the workplace reminding employees and customers not to enter the premises if they have COVID-19 symptoms such as a high temperature or persistent cough (or a member of their household displays symptoms) and to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

that employees are provided with regular breaks to allow them to wash their hands for 20 seconds. Break areas and break times should also be set up to allow for social distancing to occur to minimise contact during these times

Further Updated Details from HMRC with links

April 2020

HMRC confirms that the employer guidance and guidance for employees have been further updated in line with some of the main queries we have received from stakeholders. Whilst all the guidance has been refreshed, the main areas I would draw your attention to are:
• the more detailed information on scheme eligibility
• further information on how to calculate a claim
• clarification of what constitutes wages.

HMRC encourages you to please review the links above if you would like more information about the scheme.

Health Secretary sets out plan to carry out 100,000 coronavirus tests a day

April 2nd

New 5-pillar plan outlines national effort to increase testing to 100,000 a day in England

England will carry out 100,000 tests for coronavirus every day by the end of this month, Health Secretary Matt Hancock pledged today.

Increased testing for the NHS will form part of a new 5-pillar plan, bringing together government, industry, academia, the NHS and many others, to dramatically increase the number of tests being carried out each day.

Professor John Newton the Director of Health Improvement for Public Health England, has been appointed to help deliver the new plans and bring together industry, universities, NHS and government behind the ambitious testing targets.

He will coordinate a national effort with global manufacturers encouraged to expand their manufacturing capacity here in England; our strongest, home grown businesses in life sciences and other industries are encouraged to turn their resources to creating and rolling out mass testing at scale, and the government will support anyone with a scalable scientific idea or innovation to start a business.

New testing capabilities for the NHS and their families will support staff who are isolating at home to return safely to work if the test is negative, and keep themselves and others safe if the test is positive.

Significant progress to increase testing has already taken place across the country to protect the vulnerable, support our NHS, and ultimately save lives. New testing centres have been established at the main hotspots of the disease, and the UK has already conducted more than 152,000 tests. The 5-pillar plan sets targets to expand the England’s capability further.

The new 5-pillar plan outlines the ambitions to:

Scale up swab testing in PHE labs and NHS hospitals for those with a medical need and the most critical workers to 25,000 a day by mid to late April;

Deliver increased commercial swab testing for critical key workers in the NHS, before then expanding to key workers in other sectors;

Develop blood testing to help know if people have the right antibodies and so have high levels of immunity to coronavirus;

Conduct surveillance testing to learn more about the spread of the disease and help develop new tests and treatments; and

Create a new National Effort for testing, to build a mass-testing capacity at a completely new scale.

Once widespread testing is available, we will prioritise repeated testing of critical key workers, to keep them safe and make sure that they do not spread the virus.

Over time, plans announced today will also see increasing focus on testing to see if people have already had the virus, to identify if they have the antibodies that will give them immunity against catching it again. This science is new and developing, but the aim is for a successful test that can be rolled out at scale, that could allow critical workers - and then the wider population - to return to work and their daily lives.


The Chancellor, on March 26th, announced a new Self-employment Income Support Scheme to support self-employed people who have been adversely affected by COVID-19.

GOV‌.UK has further details about who is eligible for the scheme and how it will work

Self-employed people do not need to get in touch with HMRC as the scheme isn’t yet open for applications. HMRC will contact eligible customers by the beginning of June, inviting them to apply.
Deferral of Self Assessment Income Tax payments due in July 2020 and VAT payments due from 20 March 2020 until 3‌0‌‌ June 2020

Financial support for people and businesses

20th March

The Chancellor, this evening, announced further measures to support people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

The Chancellor’s statement can be found at GOV.UK.

Updated guidance for employers, businesses and employees is available at:

We will continue to share the most up to date information directly with you as it becomes available.

Routine Eyecare by Optical Practices ordered to cease on March 23rd in Scotland

Read the news story on Opchat News here

And read the Scottish Memo containing reparation costs and claiming instructions

Read full memo here


Key Workers

The government has defined key workers

As including, but not limited to, ‘doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector…’

Health and social care

This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Read the full key worker list here

The College of Optometrists are seeking clarity on this point. In the meantime, they believe that optometrists and staff that are required to maintain services fall within this definition, and their children should be allowed to attend school.


The government will increase number of people tested for COVID-19 to 25,000 hospital patients a day.

3:08pm, 18 March 2020

New Indemnity Scheme for clinical negligence

New indemnity scheme for historical clinical negligence claims in general practice introduced
Page summary
The Existing Liabilities Scheme for General Practice (ELSGP) will provide general practice staff with cover for historical NHS clinical negligence claims.

New indemnity scheme for historical clinical negligence claims in general practice introduced


New guidance to stay at home for 14 days

if someone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19 is the focus of the next stage of a public awareness campaign launched by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock today.

The new guidance will set out that individuals will still be asked to self-isolate for 7 days from the onset of COVID-19 symptoms but any individuals in the household will now be asked to self-isolate for 14 days from that moment as well.

If other members of your household develop symptoms, however mild, at any time during the 14 days, they must not leave the home for 7 days from when symptoms started.

The new phase of the campaign will build on the existing TV, radio, online, digital and billboard adverts currently visible all over the country. These reinforce the importance of washing your hands more often and for 20 seconds, and ask people to self-isolate for 7 days if they develop a high temperature or a new continuous cough, however mild.

Government has taken the further measure of asking whole households to isolate because it is likely that people living with others will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.

The Prime Minister also today set out a number of social distancing measures to reduce the risk of infection from the spread of coronavirus. For those who remain well, are under 70 or do not have an underlying health condition, they are advised to limit their social contact where possible, including using less public transport, working at home and considering not going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and bars.

For those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, they are strongly advised against these activities and to significantly limit face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.

The government’s public awareness campaign offers clear, practical advice so people can play their part in preventing and slowing the spread of the virus.

The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves remains washing their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Make sure you cough or sneeze into a tissue, put it in a bin and wash your hands.

The awareness campaign also reiterates the importance of seeking help online by visiting NHS.UK/coronavirus to check your symptoms and follow the medical advice, rather than visiting your GP.

It also urges people with any symptoms to avoid contact with older and more vulnerable people.

Only if symptoms become worse should people use the NHS 111 service. To ensure the phone service is readily available to those who need it, where possible people should use the 111 website rather than calling.

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister published a ‘battle plan’ for tackling the disease in the UK, which sets out plans for a range of scenarios. Last week, the Prime Minister confirmed the UK has moved into the second stage of this plan, the ‘delay’ phase.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

Coronavirus is the biggest public health crisis we have faced in a generation, and we will do whatever is necessary to protect our elderly and most vulnerable people and keep the public safe.

This is an unprecedented situation and it’s so important for each of us to rally together and do our bit to protect ourselves and each other, as well as our NHS, from this disease.

Washing hands regularly for 20 seconds or more remains the single most important thing each of us can do, but we now also need to ask everyone in a household to stay at home if anyone in their home shows symptoms.

Combating this virus will require a huge national effort. We must do all we can to save lives, protect the NHS and keep the most vulnerable people in our society safe.

 The government has today published new and updated guidance to provide affected sectors

Partly superseded

Here is their latest advice on managing the threat from COVID-19. The Public Health England (PHE) guidance provides important information for specific sectors, including schools and transport, on what precautions to take, what to do if someone develops symptoms and how to limit the spread of the virus.
The guidance will assist staff, employers and members of the public after the government last week shifted into the ‘delay’ phase of its action plan to slow the spread of the virus, reduce pressures on the NHS and protect the most vulnerable.

New and updated COVID-19 industry guidance: Guidance has also been published on how to clean non-healthcare settings such as offices or hotel rooms where a person with possible or confirmed COVID-19 has spent time while experiencing symptoms.

The guidance recommends a range of measures for different industries, including:

using announcements in transport hubs to reinforce key messages, such as washing hands before and after travel, and what to do if unwell

if anyone becomes unwell with a new continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home, to their room or the place they are staying. If they have to use public transport, they should try to keep away from other people and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue

objects and surfaces that are touched regularly should be frequently cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products

The advice for these settings continues to be not to close unless advised to do so by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team or the government.

It comes after the Health and Social Care Secretary announced an expanded public awareness campaign asking people to self-isolate for 7 days if they develop a high temperature or a new continuous cough, however mild.

The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves remains washing hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water.

The next phase of the awareness campaign reiterates the importance of seeking help online by visiting NHS.UK/coronavirus to check symptoms and follow the medical advice, rather than visiting a GP.

Out of Containment and into Delay 12/03/2020

The Government has announced that we are moving out of the contain phase and into delay, in response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The UK Chief Medical Officers have now raised the risk to the UK from moderate to high.

As per the current advice, the most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves remains washing their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Make sure you cough or sneeze into a tissue, put it in a bin and wash your hands.

We are asking anyone who shows certain symptoms to self-isolate for 7 days, regardless of whether they have travelled to affected areas. This means we want people to stay at home and avoid all but essential contact with others for 7 days from the point of displaying mild symptoms, to slow the spread of infection.

The symptoms are: * A high temperature (37.8 degrees and above) * A new, continuous cough

You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days contact NHS 111 online at If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

In the coming weeks, we will be introducing further social distancing measures for older and vulnerable people, asking them to self-isolate regardless of symptoms.

If we introduce this next stage too early, the measures will not protect us at the time of greatest risk but could have a huge social impact. We need to time this properly, continue to do the right thing at the right time, so we get the maximum effect for delaying the virus. We will clearly announce when we ask the public to move to this next stage.

Our decisions are based on careful modelling.

We will only introduce measures that are supported by clinical and scientific evidence.

Number of cases

Now you can track the increase per day and the county by county spread every day by clicking here

New Measures and a move to DELAY

All school trips cancelled, elderly advised against cruises,

What to do if you have symptoms

Stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  • a high temperature
  • a new continuous cough

This will help to protect others in your community while you are infectious.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.

We will not be testing people who are self-isolating with mild symptoms.

Its loooking bleek for large gatherings: football season might be suspended

As providers of health care in a primary setting can we really risk healthcare conferences over the nest 6 months+?

Diagnosis and analysis

The UK is one of the first countries outside China to have a prototype specific laboratory test for this new disease. Healthcare professionals who are contacted by a patient with symptoms following travel to an affected area have been advised to submit samples to PHE for testing. Individuals should be treated in isolation.

After the experience of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, PHE developed a series of diagnostic tests to detect any member of the family of coronaviruses. These have been used for several years, and were able to detect the first UK case of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012.

With the first reported publication of the genome sequence of a 2019 novel coronavirus, PHE was able to rapidly develop further specific tests for this virus, working with WHO and global network of laboratories.

When a clinician suspects novel coronavirus (COVID-19), they take samples from the nose, throat and deeper respiratory samples, package and send them safely to PHE Colindale. PHE can provide a laboratory result from this specific virus on the same working day.

PHE also has the capability to sequence the viral genome and compare this to published sequences from China, if a case occurs. This will provide valuable information on any mutations in the virus over time and allow an improved understanding of how it spreads.

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