An ongoing ‘Epidemic’ of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, started in December 2019. It was first identified in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, China and as of 27th February 2020, 82,187 cases have been confirmed with many cases now spreading across Europe and England.
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. The incubation period of COVID-19, is between 2 to 14 days. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, they have not become a case.
Most new and developing diseases wont be covered under insurance policies however it is important to check. You can call Aldium4Care on 0151 353 3880 to check yours or if you want us to check your existing policy we can do this also.
As a care home or care sector business we have sourced some guidance from Gov.uk to help you. This guidance will assist social, community and residential care employers in providing advice to their staff on what precautions and processes to follow.
This guidance is intended for the current position in the UK where there is currently no transmission of COVID-19 in the community. It is therefore very unlikely that anyone receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected.
Update 05/03/2020 – On Wednesday the government said it would declare coronavirus as a “notifiable disease”, a classification required by many insurance policies.
But the Association of British Insurers says most business insurance policies are still “unlikely” to cover losses.
Many policies will only cover firms if the virus is found on-site.
Most care home insurance policies will have their own wording around notifiable diseases under the Business Interruption section, some care home policies will have a list of diseases that they cover specifically and therefore unlikely to extend to COVID-19. Other policies may not provide a specific list but will have certain conditions about what is classes as an eligible claimant.
If you have concerns about whether or not you will or wont be covered it is best to contact our care specialist team 0151 353 3880.
Signs and symptoms of COVID-19
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:
- difficulty in breathing
Generally, these infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
How COVID-19 is spread
From what we know about other coronaviruses, spread of COVID-19 is most likely to happen when there is close contact (within 2 metres) with an infected person. It is likely that the risk increases the longer someone has close contact with an infected person.
Respiratory secretions containing the virus are most likely to be the most important means of transmission; these are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, in the same way colds spread.
There are 2 main routes by which people can spread COVID-19:
- infection can be spread to people who are nearby (within 2 metres) or possibly could be inhaled into the lungs
- it is also possible that someone may become infected by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as touching door knob or shaking hands then touching own face). Our current understanding is that the virus doesn’t survive on surfaces for longer than 72 hours.
There is currently little evidence that people without symptoms are infectious to others.
How long the virus can survive
How long any respiratory virus survives will depend on a number of factors, for example:
- what surface the virus is on
- whether it is exposed to sunlight
- differences in temperature and humidity
- exposure to cleaning products
Under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 72 hours.
Regular cleaning of frequently-touched hard surfaces and hands will therefore help to reduce the risk of infection.
Preventing the spread of infection
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
There are general principles anyone can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- washing your hands often – with soap and water, or use alcohol sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if handwashing facilities are not available – this is particularly important after taking public transport. Guidacne is available on hand washing
- covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in a bin. See Catch It, Bin It, Kill It
- people who feel unwell should stay at home and should not attend work
- employees should wash their hands:
- before leaving home
- on arrival at work
- after using the toilet
- after breaks and sporting activities
- before food preparation
- before eating any food, including snacks
- before leaving work
- on arrival at home
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- if staff are worried about their symptoms or those of a family member or colleague, please call NHS 111. They should not go to their GP or other healthcare environment
- see further information and the Public Health England Blog and the NHS UK page
What to do if an employee becomes unwell and believe they have been exposed to COVID-19
If the staff, member of the public or resident has not been to specified areas in the last 14 days, then normal practice should continue.
If staff, member of the public or resident becomes unwell in the workplace and has travelled to China or other affected countries, the unwell person should be removed to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people. If possible find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a shut door, such as a staff office. If it is possible to open a window, do so for ventilation.
The individual who is unwell should call NHS 111 from their mobile, or 999 if an emergency (if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk) and explain which country they have returned from in the last 14 days and outline their current symptoms. If the person affected is not able for any reason to call NHS 111 themselves then a staff member should call on their behalf.
Whilst they wait for advice from NHS 111 or an ambulance to arrive, they should remain at least 2 metres from other people. They should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects and be advised to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in a bag then throw the tissue in the bin. If they don’t have any tissues available, they should cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.
If they need to go to the bathroom whilst waiting for medical assistance, they should use a separate bathroom if available. This will apply only to the period of time while waiting for transport to hospital.
You can find even more helpful guidance on the government website or click here
What social, community and residential care settings need to do now
Currently there is no evidence of transmission of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom. There is no need to do anything differently in any care setting at present.
If any of your staff do become infected through travel to affected countries you will be contacted by your local Health Protection Team to take you through a risk assessment for your particular setting.
You may find it helpful to know about your local health protection team in advance of any outbreak of disease.
Health Protection Teams are part of Public Health England and will provide advice and guidance on infectious disease and non-infectious environmental hazards, manage and control outbreaks of infectious disease in the community and are a source of expert advice on new infections.
Your local public health team is led by your Director of Public Health. They will link closely with the Director of Adult Social Services in working with partners locally to respond to any cases of this infection.
For any help or if you want to check your insurance cover call Aldium4care on 0151 353 3880
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