The global outbreak of Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) has become huge news over the past couple of months. Whilst it originally broke out in China’s Hubei province, the virus has proceeded to spread the world over. There have now been confirmed cases in six of the world’s seven continents – Antarctica, unsurprisingly, is the only exception.
The UK has not been exempt from this outbreak. The number of confirmed cases across the United Kingdom is increasing daily. At the time of writing, there have been 18,083 people tested. Of this number, 17,968 returned negative tests, whilst 115 people have tested positive for the virus. According to The London School Of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, experts believe that the virus could be expected to reach peak contagion at its epicentre, in Wuhan, at some point during March. What they mean by this is that if the virus’ reproductive patterns remain similar to how they have been so far, and they don’t fluctuate, then the virus will most likely peak this month – but only in the epicentre.
Figures surrounding the UK and the rest of the world, with regards to peak contagion, are harder to ascertain as the virus is continuing to spread. So far, there has been one confirmed death in the UK as a result of COVID-19. The case in question? An elderly woman who was regularly in and out of the hospital and had underlying health problems. As with any global outbreak, the public is asking lots of questions: when will there be a vaccine? Should we stockpile supplies? With the information surrounding the outbreak updating, seemingly daily, it can be hard to keep up. We’ve written this blog to detail some of the known facts and the Government’s current guidelines.
The Business & Educational Impacts Of COVID-19
Whether you think the virus has been significantly overhyped by media frenzy or that this is a global outbreak that necessitates the most serious levels of attention, one thing is clear, it’s having an impact on businesses across the world. The Asian stock markets, for example, have seen steep falls amidst growing concerns and fears over the virus. Global business giants have started to react as well. Twitter’s employees in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, for example, are all working remotely due to the developing state of the virus.
Domestically, it is already affecting the UK. Nike closed their European HQ in the Netherlands, and subsequently their offices in London and Sunderland in the UK, to allow for deep cleans to take place.
ACAS (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has also brought out extensive advice for both employers and employees regarding COVID-19. This includes what to do regarding sick pay, as well as proper practices and procedures should someone become unwell at work. The outbreak is increasingly affecting schools across the UK. As it stands, there have been 15 school closures across the UK stemming from Coronavirus concerns. Legislation is to be introduced granting Government ministers the powers to prepare for a widespread outbreak, including more school closures (for upwards of two months, potentially), the cancellation of events and, in the most drastic of scenarios, bringing former NHS employees out of retirement to help deal with the increased number of positive cases.
The Latest Government Guidance
The symptoms of Coronavirus are akin to those of a heavy bout of seasonal flu. They include: fever and tiredness, breathing difficulties, muscular pain and coughing. These can then develop into more serious respiratory symptoms as the virus develops. If you believe you have these symptoms, the recommendation is to ring NHS 111. Even more importantly, you shouldn’t go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. The Government’s Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has outlined the Government’s COVID-19 response action-plan, the drafting of which has been informed by major global bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO). The action-plan centres around four main phases:
- Contain. This involves detecting the early cases of the outbreak, tracing who sufferers have been in direct contact with, and implementing self-isolation measures where necessary. The contain phase also involves recognising those demographics at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. These are namely those who have travelled from highly-affected areas such as China.
- Delay. The delay phase, which the UK is currently moving towards at the time of writing, focuses on slowing the spread of the virus in this country. This revolves around key hygiene habits. Washing your hands for a minimum of twenty seconds, using a tissue for coughs and avoiding touching your face are all measures you can take to further reduce the spreading of the virus, or contracting it yourself.
- Research. This stage focuses on garnering a better understanding of the virus and how said understanding will inform action moving forward. The designing of vaccines, the appropriate drugs to implement, and the best models of care to follow.
- Mitigate. The final step of the four-phase plan is mitigation. This involves providing the best possible care for those who contract the virus. It also includes the provision of ongoing community support and the putting in place of frameworks, designed to limit the economic and societal impacts that COVID-19 has.
The general consensus, amongst major medical bodies and the Government alike, is to take extra personal hygiene measures and take precautions where possible.
The Importance Of Facilities Management During The COVID-19 Outbreak
Part of Munday + Cramer’s responsibility as a company is facilities management. Thorough facilities management has a key part to play in preventing the further spread of COVID-19. It’s especially important, given the recent, renewed impetus into habits such as hand-washing, that our managed facilities undergo thorough water temperature testing as standard, compliant against statutory requirements. This testing ensures that your hand-washing is as effective as it could possibly be. It also helps prevent any potential outbreaks of bacterial Legionella outbreaks; thus, in this way, two birds are killed with one stone.
Munday + Cramer can also oversee the installation of additional gel stations. Anti-bacterial gels improve the level of hygiene and cleanliness upheld at managed facilities. They also improve the effectiveness of hand-washing. Standard facilities management extends to the offering of deep cleans when necessary. More businesses and schools alike are closing at a rapid rate. Therefore, having the option of these deep, more forensic-style cleans at your disposal is imperative.