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Coronavirus – Updated guidance for staff (Sep 25)

The Government continues to update its advice on Coronavirus. We have produced this summary guidance in line with this and we would encourage you to read it carefully and share it with colleagues. A copy of this guidance is available to download here. This information is summarised from the following website: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is the illness caused by a strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan city, China. It can cause a new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia).

Generally, coronavirus 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. This is a rapidly changing situation which is being monitored carefully.

How to Avoid Catching COVID-19

You can reduce your risk of getting and spreading the infection by:

  • avoiding direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth
    maintaining good hand hygiene
  • avoiding direct contact with people that have a respiratory illness and avoiding using their personal items such as their mobile phone
  • covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with disposable tissues and disposing of them in the nearest waste bin after use
  • following the guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection and arranging to be tested if someone in your household has symptoms
  • making sure everyone in your household follows the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus advice as much as possible and to stay away from other people
  • making sure everyone in your household follows the physical distancing advice, especially anyone in a vulnerable group
  • helping those at extremely high risk of severe illness with coronavirus to follow the shielding advice

Food

You can’t catch coronavirus from food. But it is possible to catch it if you touch an infected surface or object and then touch your mouth or nose.

The Food Standards Scotland has answered some common questions about coronavirus and food.

Wash your hands regularly

Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser before eating and drinking, and after coughing, sneezing and going to the toilet.

Stay at home if you have Coronavirus Symptoms

The most common symptoms are new:

  • continuous cough
  • fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater)
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia)

A new continuous cough is where you:

  • have a new cough that’s lasted for an hour
  • have had 3 or more episodes of coughing in 24 hours
  • are coughing more than usual

A high temperature is feeling hot to the touch on your chest or back (you don’t need to measure your temperature). You may feel warm, cold or shivery. Some people will have more serious symptoms, including pneumonia or difficulty breathing, which might require admission to hospital.

You should only phone 111 if:

  • your symptoms worsen during home isolation, especially if you’re in a high or extremely high risk group
  • breathlessness develops or worsens, particularly if you’re in a high or extremely high risk group
  • your symptoms haven’t improved in 10 days

If you have a medical emergency, phone 999 and tell them you have COVID-19 symptoms.

How long to stay at home

If you’ve developed symptoms (however mild) in the last 7 days, stay at home for 10 days from the start of your symptoms and arrange to be tested. Do not go to your GP, pharmacy or hospital. You should remain at home until you get the result of the test, and then follow the advice you will be given based on the result.

If you live with other people and have symptoms, they’ll need to stay at home for 14 days from the start of your symptoms even if they don’t have symptoms themselves. If they develop symptoms within the 14 days, they need to stay at home for 10 days from the day their symptoms started and arrange to be tested. They should do this even if it takes them over the 14-day isolation period.

Your whole household should follow our stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.

Physical Distancing

Physical distancing measures are things you should do to minimise the opportunity for Coronavirus (COVID-19) to spread from one person to another.

These measures are for everyone, including children. They should be used when people are living in their own homes, with or without additional support from friends, family and carers.

As we progress through the route map phases, suppressing the virus will continue to rely on people following essential hygiene measures and physical distancing.

Read the Scottish Government’s full guidance for staying safe and protecting others

In Phase 3, you can leave your home for any purpose. but before leaving your home you should plan how you will keep safe and minimise risk to yourself and others.

Things to consider:

  • whether and how you will avoid touching surfaces that others have touched and how you will practise good hygiene
  • where physical distancing might be more difficult to follow, and how you will avoid or reduce the risk
  • what additional things you may need to take with you, such as hand sanitiser, a bag for used tissues and a face covering

Be considerate. Bear in mind that some people may find physical distancing rules more difficult to follow than others.

Face coverings

In enclosed spaces, where physical distancing is more difficult and where there’s a risk of close contact with multiple people who are not members of your household, you should wear a face covering.

Unless you have an exemption, people must by law wear a face covering:

  • in all shops and supermarkets
  • on public transport
  • in public transport premises such as railway and bus stations and airports (This applies to open air train stations but not to bus stops)
  • on school transport (children aged 5 and over)
  • in secondary schools (corridors and communal areas) but not in classrooms
  • in libraries
  • in museums
  • in banks/post offices
  • in places of worship

A face covering can be any covering for your mouth and nose that’s made of cloth or other textiles, and that you can breathe through. Religious face coverings that cover the mouth and the nose count as face coverings for these purposes. If a face shield is worn, another face covering must be worn underneath.

When applying or removing the covering, it’s important you wash your hands first and avoid touching your face. After each use, you should wash the face covering at 60 °C or dispose of it safely.

You can meet and take part in outdoor recreation with another household at a time in small numbers (no more than 6 people in total at a time) outdoors or in a garden as long as you follow physical distancing and stay 2 metres apart.

When meeting another household:

  • follow our advice on physical distancing and hygiene, and wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • avoid touching hard surfaces such as gates, walls, fences and park benches with your hands
  • take hand sanitiser with you and use it often, especially before eating or after touching surfaces
  • bring your own food, plates and cutlery if you’re eating together
  • don’t go indoors unless you are using a toilet

You’re still not able to have larger public gatherings of friends and family.

You should strictly follow physical distancing advice if you are:

  • pregnant
  • at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus (including people over 70, and people with an underlying medical condition)

Meeting other households indoors

You cannot meet indoors with people from other households unless you have formed an extended household or provide care and support and only if you use enhanced hygiene measures.

Children and young people

Children aged 12 and over must follow the same rules as adults.

Children under 12 do not need to maintain physical distancing and do not count towards the limit of 6 people from 2 households who can meet outdoors but must be from within either household.

Additional information

Our Employee Frequently Asked Questions provides further information on the above.

Employees who are concerned about the virus should refer to official and expert medical sources such as Gov.UK, National Health Service NHS Inform and Occupational Health Sharepoint site, (you can log into this using your North Ayrshire Council email address. If you are not able to access this, speak to your line manager).

The Council will continue to keep up to date with Government and public health advice and will issue further communications as required.

Community Impacts

Please bear in mind your friends, family and neighbours during this period, particularly if they are elderly, vulnerable or self-isolating. They may need extra help with everyday activities such as shopping and would appreciate your support.

You should start planning now for how you would manage a period of self-isolation just in case everyone in your household needs to stay at home.

Your plan might include:

  • talking to your neighbours and family and exchanging phone numbers of household contacts
  • making a plan for those in your home who are considered vulnerable.
    creating a contact list with phone numbers of neighbours, schools, employer, pharmacist and your GP
  • setting up online shopping accounts if possible
  • ensuring adequate supplies of any regular medication, but do not over-order
  • talking to any children or young people in your household as they may be worried about coronavirus

You can find advice for supporting your child’s mental health during coronavirus through Parent Club.

There are also many supports for our employee’s health and wellbeing: https://www.north-ayrshire.gov.uk/staffnews/latest-news/Remember-to-look-after-your-own-wellbeing.aspx

“Like everyone, we faced unprecedented circumstances, however, our teaching and support staff used their skills, knowledge and experience to act, react and respond to the situation we found ourselves in.

– Caroline Amos, Head of Education

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