Coronavirus Guidance

Posted November 29, 2021

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.


Updated face covering guidance to prevent the spread of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant in the UK will come into force on Tuesday

From 4am on Tuesday 30th November, face coverings will be compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so.

All travellers arriving into the country from 4am on Tuesday 30 November will be required to take a PCR test on or before day 2 and self isolate until they have received a negative test result. These PCR tests can be purchased from private providers. Free NHS tests are not valid for this purpose.

Click here or on the image above to read more details.


Ventilation of indoor spaces to stop the spread of Coronavirus

If you are socialising indoors, remember to open a window for a few minutes every now and again to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.

The video above uses smoke to show how the virus can stay in an unventilated room.

Click here to read the guidance which is available in multiple languages and Easy Read.


JCVI issues updated advice on COVID-19 booster vaccination

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has updated its advice on the COVID-19 vaccine booster programme.

The COVID-19 vaccines provide high levels of protection against hospitalisation or dying from the virus. To maintain this high level of protection through the coming winter, the JCVI is advising that booster vaccines be offered to those more at risk from serious disease, and who were vaccinated during Phase 1 of the vaccine programme (priority groups 1 to 9).

This includes:

  • those living in residential care homes for older adults
  • all adults aged 50 years or over
  • frontline health and social care workers
  • all those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19, and adult carers
  • adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals

The JCVI advises that the booster vaccine dose is offered no earlier than 6 months after completion of the primary vaccine course, in the same order as during Phase 1.

Click here to learn more details.

The following guidance applies whenever a patient is conveyed:

Travelling in an ambulance to support an adult with a learning disability

Essential escorts/carers/support workers should not be restricted from travelling with the patient where their support is necessary for the benefit of the patient for example, disabled patients.

Non-essential persons (such as observers, family members) are not to travel within the patient compartment with a suspected or confirmed case, unless the patient is a child who requires conveyance, in this case it is acceptable for a parent or guardian to accompany the child.

Family members and relatives of these patients accompanying these patients may be restricted depending on the identified risk pathway for the patient. All visitors/patient escorts will be required to wear a face covering within the ambulance and should remain in the vehicle saloon.


JCVI issues updated advice on COVID-19 vaccination of young people aged 16 to 17

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is today advising that all 16 and 17 year olds receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Click here or the image above to read the full guidance.

At present the advice is that young people aged 16 and 17 need to wait to be contacted by the NHS for their covid vaccine.


The Prime Minister held a press conference on Monday, 12 July, where he confirmed that England will move to Step 4 of the Roadmap on 19 July.

He also confirmed, however, that we are still in a pandemic and that we all need to remain vigilant, exercise caution, and get both doses of the Covid vaccine when offered. Current modelling suggests that COVID-19 cases will continue to rise as restrictions are eased.

England’s Chief Nurse on Thursday 15th July, reminded the public that everyone accessing or visiting healthcare settings must continue to wear a face covering and follow social distancing rules.

“Please help us to reduce the risk of infection for our staff and patients by following the guidance.”

Click here or the image above to access the guidance.


The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that pregnant women should be offered the COVID-19 vaccination at the same time as everyone else, based on age and clinical risk.

This news follows data showing that around 90,000 pregnant women had been vaccinated, mainly with mRNA vaccines, including Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, without any safety concerns being raised.

As a result JCVI advises that it’s preferable for pregnant women in the UK to be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines where available. There is no evidence to suggest that other vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women, but more research is needed.

Click Here or on the image above to read the details.


There have been some updates to Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable from COVID-19

Click here or on the image above to read the details and see what has changed.


Visiting is a central part of care home life. It is crucially important for maintaining the health, wellbeing and quality of life of residents. Visiting is also vital for family and friends to maintain contact and life-long relationships with their loved ones and contribute to their support and care.

This guidance which you can read by clicking HERE or on the image above, applies from 8th March 2021 and replaces previous guidance on care home visiting. It applies to care homes for working age and for older adults.


The Government has recently provided updated guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision.

The full official guidance can be found by clicking here or on the image above.


Stay Home Stay Safe

Click the image above or here to read the guidance.


West Berkshire in Tier 4 Now

All clinically extremely vulnerable individuals in Tier 4 are strongly urged to follow the guidance, which is the same as the national guidance in November.

Click HERE  to read the full guidance.


From the 19th December 2020 West Berkshire will go into Tier 3


Christmas Covid rules

Between 23 and 27 December, the three households will be allowed to form a temporary “Christmas bubble”. They can mix indoors and stay overnight.

Bubbles will be allowed to meet each other:

  • In each other’s homes
  • At a place of worship
  • In an outdoor public space, or garden

The bubbles will be fixed, so you will not be able to mix with two households on Christmas Day and two different ones on Boxing Day. Households you are in a Christmas bubble with can’t be in others.

Click HERE or the image above to read the full story


West Berkshire moves into Coronavirus Alert Tier Two

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Clinically extremely vulnerable receive updated guidance in line with new national restrictions

Clinically extremely vulnerable people in England have today received further guidance on keeping safe as the country introduces new national restrictions from Thursday, the government has announced.

The new advice details further precautions those in this group can take on top of the tougher national measures being introduced, as cases continue to rise across the country. Everyone not considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable will be expected to follow the new restrictions, such as staying at home unless shopping for food or exercising and not meeting up with people outside of the household.

Read the details by clicking here or on the image above.


New Guidance for Care Homes

  • Visits should be tailored to residents and facilities and should prioritise residents and staff’s safety to limit the transmission of COVID-19
  • Care homes, especially those who have not allowed visits since March, will be encouraged and supported to provide safe visiting opportunities as new national restrictions come into effect
  • Measures put in place should provide COVID-secure opportunities for families to meet using visiting arrangements such as floor to ceiling screens, visiting pods, and window visit

Click here or the image above to read the full guidance.


National restrictions will apply in England from 5th Nov until 2nd Dec

You must stay at home, with a limited set of exemptions.

After 4 weeks the government will review the restrictions, based on the latest data.

Read more by clicking here or the image above.

14/10/2020 – Covid-19: New three-tier restrictions come into force

Following the Prime Ministers announcement on local Covid alert levels throughout England, West Berkshire is now at alert level “Medium”.

Areas on medium alert are subject to the national restrictions currently in force prior to the Prime Ministers announcement, including the rule of six on indoor and outdoor gatherings and the 22:00 closing time for pubs, bars and restaurants.

We must all continue to obey the guidance to keep West Berkshire open and save lives.

Read more information by clicking either of the two images above, or by clicking here.

23/09/2020 – Covid rules: What are the new Coronavirus restrictions

  • Pubs, bars and restaurants to close at 22:00 BST
  • They will also be restricted to table service only
  • People should work from home wherever possible
  • Face masks compulsory for bar staff and non-seated customers, shop workers and waiters
  • Limit on guests at weddings reduced from 30 to 15
  • Plans to allow fans to return to sporting events paused
  • “Rule of six” now applies to indoor team sports
  • Fines for not wearing masks or following rules increased to £200 for first offence

Click here or on the image above to read the details. Or click here to read the information on the government website.

14/09/2020 – Updated Social Distancing Covid Guidance 

Coronavirus Social Distancing Guidance 14th September

Government guidance for Social Distancing has been updated on 14th September 2020. Some of the key points from this guidance are as follows.

When seeing friends and family you do not live with you should:

  • meet in groups of 6 or less
  • follow social distancing rules
  • limit how many different people you see socially over a short period of time
  • meet people outdoors where practical: meeting people outdoors is safer than meeting people indoors because fresh air provides better ventilation

It is critical that everybody observes the following key behaviours:

  • HANDS – Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
  • FACE – Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
  • SPACE – Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).

Please click here or on the image above to read the full details.

11/09/2020 – New public information campaign to prevent the spread
of coronavirus this winter

HM Government has launched Hands. Face. Space, a new campaign that urges the public to continue to wash their hands, cover their face and make space to control infection rates and avoid a second peak. The spread of coronavirus, particularly in enclosed spaces is shown in a new film, produced with experts in the field, which highlights the risk in simple, everyday interactions.

The campaign will run across TV, radio, print, out of home, social and digital display advertising.

The following guidance contains information for parents and carers of children at registered childcare providers, primary and secondary schools and colleges. 

It includes:

  • new information on school admissions
  • updated information on travelling to and from nursery, childminders, school and college
  • updated information on education, health and care (EHC) plans, wellbeing and online safety
  • updated information about assessment and exams
  • updated information on face coverings

Click here or on the image above to read the guidance.

31/07/2020 – Update on policies for visiting arrangements in care homes

Click the image below to read the details.

31/07/2020 – Update to face covering guidance

Wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England is mandatory, and those who fail to comply will face a fine of up to £100, the government has announced.

For the latest face covering guidance, including how to wear and make your own face covering, please click here or on the image below.

The Government has also announced that face covering is mandatory in hospitals for staff and visitors.

Read face covering information from our local hospital trusts by clicking the links below:

Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

You can also click here or the image below to read a Government press release about face coverings in hospitals.

14/07/2020 – Updated face covering guidance

Face covering guidance has been updated to reflect the changes coming on July 24th, where it will become mandatory for people to wear face coverings in shops.

Read the guidance by clicking here or on the image above.

03/07/2020 – Updated advice on shielding

The Government have announced that the advice for people who are shielding because of COVID-19 will be relaxed in two phases.

  • From 6 July those shielding will be able to spend time outdoors in a group of up to 6 people including those outside of their household, while maintaining social distancing.Those who are shielding and live alone or are single parents with children will also be able to create a ‘support bubble’ with one other household of any size, following the same rules that are already in place for the wider population.
  • From 1 August, the shielding advice will relax further, allowing those shielding to do even more, such as visit shops and places of worship, and return to work provided they take particular care to maintain social distancing and minimise contact with others outside their household.

Support available:

The food and medicine boxes facilitated by the National Shielding Service will stop as of 1 August, with everyone now being advised that they can visit shops and pharmacies.

Other forms of support – such as priority supermarket delivery slots and the NHS Volunteers Scheme – will continue.

12/06/2020 – Hospital Visiting Recommendations

Following the Secretary of State for Health’s announcement on 5 June 2020, by 15 June 2020:

  • hospitals should ensure that measures are in place so that all settings are, where practicable, COVID-secure, using social distancing, optimal hand hygiene, frequent surface decontamination, ventilation and other measures where appropriate
  • in all settings that are unable to be delivered as COVID-19 secure, all hospital staff (both in clinical and non-clinical roles), when not otherwise required to use personal protective equipment, should wear a facemask; worn to prevent the spread of infection from the wearer*
  • visitors and outpatients to hospital settings should wear a form of face covering for the same reason, to prevent the spread of infection from the wearer

Click here or the image above to read the full guidance.

06/05/2020Carers UK Update Their Information Surrounding Coronavirus:

As the situation with coronavirus evolves it’s important to know what support is available to you as a carer and those you look after.If you are worried that you or someone you look after may be at risk, NHS 111 can offer direct guidance through their online coronavirus helpline. Call 111 if your (or their) symptoms become severe, and let them know you are a carer.

Please click here for further information


The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

“When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. That is why the government has introduced three new measures.

  1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
  2. Closing certain businesses and venues
  3. Stopping gatherings of more than two people in public

“Following these measures will help limit the spread of coronavirus, reduce the impact on the NHS and save lives. Key parts of the measures are underpinned by law, which sets out clearly what you must and must not do – every person in the country must comply with this. The relevant authorities, including the police, have been given the powers to enforce the law – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.”

Click here or the image above to read further details, including the full guidance.

20/04/2020 – Lasting Power of Attorney Update

A lasting power of attorney is a document that protects you when you can’t speak for yourself.  Guidance on what you can and can’t do when making one during the COVID-19 outbreak has been created.

Please click the image below to read the full guidance.

02/04/2020 – Coronavirus domestic absue West Berkshire Support and Guidance

West Berkshire Council have created some support and guidance for those that are experiencing domestic abuse during the pandemic.

For a full version of this guidance including links to support services, please click the image below.

31/03/2020 – Updated Guidance for care of the deceased with suspected or confirmed coronavirus

Click here or on the image below to read the guidance.

30/03/2020 – Public Health have published new guidance on how to look after your mental health and well being during the coronavirus outbreak.

Click the image below to read the guidance in full.

29/03/2020 – Public Health new guidance on mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak

Click the image below to read the guidance, also includes advice on supporting children and young people

23/03/2020 – Updated Official guidance produced by Public Health England on limiting social interaction to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus:

Please take a few minutes to read this important advice in full, by clicking here or the image below.

Department of Health Update About Travel:

During the coronavirus pandemic, people should avoid travelling unless it is essential. This means you should avoid visiting holiday or second homes.

Find out more information by clicking here

22/03/2020 – What is Social Distancing:

21/03/2020 – Change in Advice from the Department of Health for at risk patients:

Some people with serious underlying health conditions face the highest risk of being hospitalised by the coronavirus.

We are now urging these people to stay at home.

  • Organ Transplant Recipients
  • People with specific cancers
  • People having treatments for cancer
  • People with severe respiratory conditions 
  • People with rare diseases
  • People on immunosuppression therapies
  • People who are pregnant with significant congenital heart disease.

Please see the full list below:

Department of Health’s to helping the at risk patients:

This guidance is for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition, and for their family, friends and carers.

It is intended for use in situations where the extremely vulnerable person is living in their own home, with or without additional support. This includes the extremely clinically vulnerable people living in long-term care facilities, either for the elderly or persons with special needs.

Guidance on shielding & protecting the vulnerable and at risk people.

18/03/2020 – NHS advise people to take paracetamol to treat symptoms

Various information is circulating on social media about which medicines to use to help treat the symptoms of coronavirus.

NHS advice: take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you it’s not suitable for you.

16/03/2020 – New guidance has been published on what you need to do to protect yourself, protect others, and protect the NHS.

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This guidance is for everyone. It advises on social distancing measures we should all be taking to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). It is intended for use in situations where people are living in their own homes, with or without additional support from friends, family and carers. Some of the key points from this guidance is posted below.

– If you live with other people and anyone in your household has a new continuous cough or a high temperature, you should stay at home for 14 days.

Try to get help from other people for daily necessities, but if you absolutely have to go outside, ensure you stay a safe distance from other people.

– If anyone in your household has none of the coronavirus symptoms, you should stop all non essential contact with other people, work from home if possible, stop all unnecessary travel, and avoid clubs, pubs, theaters and other social venues.

This guidance is especially important if you are over 70 years old, if you are a pregnant woman, if you have a weakened immune system, or if you have a health condition that makes you more vulnerable.

Please take a few minutes to read this important advice in full, by clicking here.


NHS is advising people to stay home for 7 days if you have either a high temperature or a new continuous cough.

Use NHS 111 if your condition worsens and you cannot cope from home, or if your condition doesn’t improve after 7 days.

Read the full details HERE

Feeling ill and are unsure whether it’s the coronavirus? The image below from World Health Organization highlights the symptoms.


25th February 2020 – Guidance for social or community care and residential settings on COVID-19 – Click HERE to read more.

1. Background and scope of guidance

Social and community care is taken to cover:

  • long-term conditions services (LTC)
  • rehabilitation services (RHS)
  • community healthcare services (CHC)
  • community-based services for people with mental health needs (MHC)
  • community-based services for people with a learning disability (LDC)
  • community social care (domiciliary care services including those provided for children (DCC))
  • community-based services for people who misuse substances (SMC)
  • community social workers
  • residential children’s homes, including secure children’s homes
  • care home services with nursing (CHN)
  • care home services without nursing (CHS)
  • support to people in their own homes

This guidance will assist social, community and residential care employers in providing advice to their staff on:

  • the novel coronavirus, COVID-19
  • how to help prevent spread of all respiratory infections including COVID-19
  • what to do if someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in a health or social care setting
  • what advice to give to individuals who have travelled to specific areas, as outlined by the Chief Medical Officer (the full list is available here)
  • risk assessments for undertaking domiciliary visits or providing care in residential settings
  • actions to take if staff come into contact with someone who is self-isolating or is a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19

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.

Children’s residential care settings may also find it helpful to be aware of guidance provided to educational settings.

2. Information about the virus

A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China in January 2020.

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.

3. Signs and symptoms of COVID-19

The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:

  • cough
  • difficulty in breathing
  • fever

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.

Graphic showing the symptoms of coronavirus: Shortness of breath, headache, cough, muscle pain. Virus seems to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough and then after a week leads to shortness of breath and some patients needing hospital treatment

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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. Guidance 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
Three images giving government advice: Wash your hands, Use a tissue for coughs, avoid touching your face

7. Guidance on facemasks

During normal day-to-day activities facemasks do not provide protection from respiratory viruses, such as COVID-19 and do not need to be worn by staff in any of these settings. Facemasks are only recommended to be worn by infected individuals when advised by a healthcare worker, to reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to other people. It remains very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected.

PHE recommends that the best way to reduce any risk of infection for anyone is good hygiene and avoiding direct or close contact (within 2 metres) with any potentially infected person.

8. 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.

9. Returning from travel overseas to affected areas

People who have returned from Hubei Province, including Wuhan, in the last 14 days should avoid attending work. They should call NHS 111 for advice and self-isolate.

There is advice in place for what to do if you have returned in the last 14 days from specified countries or areas which is being updated on an ongoing basis.

All other staff should continue to attend work.

10. Closure of the office or workplace or residential setting and other actions if staff, members of the public or residents are undergoing COVID-19 testing and they have been in the office, workplace or residential setting

No restrictions or special control measures are required in these settings while a member of staff or resident is waiting for laboratory test results for COVID19. In particular, there is no need to close or send staff home at this point. As a precautionary measure, the NHS are currently testing a very large number of people who have travelled back from affected countries, the vast majority of whom test negative. Therefore, until the outcome of test results is known there is no action that needs to be taken.

11. What to do if someone with confirmed COVID-19 has recently been in the office, workplace or residential setting

Closure of the office, workplace or residential setting is not recommended.

The management team of the office or workplace or residential setting will be contacted by the Public Health England (PHE) local Health Protection Team to discuss the case, identify people who have been in contact with them and advise on actions that should be taken.

An assessment of each setting will be undertaken by PHE’s local Health Protection Team with the lead responsible person. Advice on the management of staff, members of the public or residents will be based on this assessment.

The Health Protection Team will also be in contact with the case directly to advise on isolation and identifying other contacts and will be in touch with any contacts of the case to provide them with appropriate advice.

Advice on cleaning of communal areas such as offices or toilets will be given by the Health Protection Team and is outlined later in this document.

12. What to do if someone in the office, workplace or residential setting has had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19

If a confirmed case is identified in this setting, the local Health Protection Team will provide the relevant people with advice. It is important to follow the advice of the local Health Protection Team

Contacts are not considered cases and if they are well they are very unlikely to spread the infection to others:

  • those who have had close contact will be asked to self-isolate at home or in their own room in a care or residential home for 14 days from the last time they had contact with the confirmed case and follow the home isolation advice sheet
  • they will be actively followed up by the Health Protection Team

People who have not had close contact with the confirmed case do not need to take any precautions and can continue their routines as usual.

13. Advice for people if they have travelled from elsewhere in China (outside Hubei Province) or other specified countries

If they are currently well, they can attend work.

  • they are advised to self-isolate only if they develop symptoms
  • their family and workplace colleagues do not need to take any precautions or make any changes to their own activities

If they become unwell:

  • they (or a family member, colleague or member of staff) should call NHS 111 immediately for them to be assessed by an appropriate specialist in hospital, as quickly as possible. They should not go to their GP or other healthcare environment
  • they should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as they would with other flu viruses (see this home isolation advice sheet)
  • see further information and PHEs Blog

14. Advice for people if they have returned from travel anywhere else in the world within the last 14 days

Currently there are minimal cases outside the listed area and therefore the likelihood of an individual coming into contact with a confirmed case is extremely low.

These people can continue to attend work and go about their daily routine, unless they have been informed otherwise by their local Health Protection Team.

If individuals are aware that they have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 they should contact NHS 111 for further advice.

For the latest country information please see the list of countries and areas affected.

15. Cleaning the office, workplace or residential setting where there are confirmed cases of COVID-19

The local Health Protection Team will provide advice on cleaning. Coronavirus symptoms are similar to a flu-like illness and include cough, fever, or shortness of breath. Once symptomatic, all surfaces that the person has come into contact with must be cleaned including:

  • all surfaces and objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids
  • all potentially contaminated high-contact areas such as toilets, door handles, telephones
  • clothing and linen used by the person should be set aside pending assessment of the person by a healthcare professional

Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time in (such as corridors) but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids do not need to be specially cleaned and disinfected.

16. Rubbish disposal including tissues

All waste that has been in contact with the individual, including used tissues, continence pads and other items soiled with bodily fluids, should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied. The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied. It should be put in a safe place and marked for storage until the COVID-19 test result is available, which will be within 24 hours.

If the individual tests negative, this can be put in the normal waste.

Similarly, laundry from the room of a possible case should be stored safely until the result of the test is known Should the individual test positive, the local Health Protection Team advise you what to do with the waste and laundry.

17. Specific actions for social and community care staff visiting patients at home or providing care to residents

People returning from some areas of the world are being told to self-isolate depending on the location they have visited and their symptoms. People who have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 are also being advised by their local Health Protection Team to self-isolate. People who are self-isolating and have no symptoms do not pose a risk to others. They are self-isolating to allow closer monitoring in order to identify early symptoms, and to enable prompt medical action if required.

Social, community and residential care staff should ascertain if a person is in self-isolation and if they are asymptomatic or symptomatic prior to their visit. If they are self -isolating and a visit is deemed necessary, then a full risk assessment should be undertaken with managers and infection control specialist to decide the best course of action.

If during a telephone consultation with a patient or their representative to assess their suitability for a domiciliary visit, it is thought that COVID-19 is possible (based on the PHE criteria for a possible case), then a face-to-face assessment must be avoided. Instead, call NHS 111 and arrange for a clinical assessment to be made before proceeding.

17.1 If the person is asymptomatic

As the person is asymptomatic there is no need to change your approach.

17.2 If the person is symptomatic

  • avoid any further physical contact with the person, if you can. The person should remain in the room with the door closed. Belongings and waste with which they have come into contact should remain in the room
  • advise anyone with you not to enter the room. If a travel or clinical history still needs to be obtained or completed, do this by telephoning the patient in the room
  • ask the patient or their representative to call NHS 111 from their room
  • inform your manager so that a full risk assessment can be undertaken with an infection control specialist to decide the next course of action

17.3 If the patient requires urgent medical attention

If the patient is critically ill and requires an urgent medical attention or ambulance transfer to a hospital, inform the ambulance call handler of the potential links to COVID-19.

Following the patient transfer to hospital, the room should be closed and should not be used until further advice is provided by the local Health Protection Team.

17.4 If the person has a negative COVID-19 test

If after assessment the person has a negative test, then no further action is required.

17.5 If the person has a positive COVID-19 test

If after assessment the person has a positive test, then a contact tracing exercise will be undertaken by the local Health Protection Team. You will be advised on any further actions, depending on your recent exposure to the patient.

18. 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.