The government has today published new and updated guidance to provide affected sectors with the 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.
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.
Last week, the government published advice for the social care sector to protect older people and those with underlying conditions.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
Our goal is to protect life by protecting the vulnerable and the NHS.
We are in the midst of the biggest public health emergency in a generation, and everyone has a part to play. As the government works round the clock as part of our action plan to tackle the virus, it’s vital that different industries know exactly what they need to do to limit the spread of COVID-19 and ultimately protect life.
This updated guidance provides clear information on what to do if someone is experiencing symptoms, how to keep people informed and the precautions that we should all be taking – including continuing to regularly wash our hands.
PHE’s National Infections Service Deputy Director Nick Phin said:
The most important actions people can all take are to wash their hands regularly, stay at home when they have symptoms – however mild – and to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces.