COVID-19: Advice for workers, numbers

The number of patients in England to have tested positive for coronavirus has reached 9, as the World Health Organisation announces the official name for the disease caused by the coronavirus as COVID-19.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England, at 12th February, a total of 1,758 people have been tested for the virus. WHO data shows a worsening situation outside of China with the reported discovery of 76 new cases (compared with 12 the day before and 19 on the previous day.

As a result of the public health emergency, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate and they are advising anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and who is experiencing cough or fever or shortness of breath, to stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild.

DHSC is are asking people to take “simple, common-sense steps to avoid close contact with other people as much as possible” – just as they would with the ‘flu.

“This means remaining at home for 14 days after arriving from Wuhan or Hubei Province (or elsewhere in China or specified areas if you have symptoms) and not going to work, school or public areas,” it states. “Where possible, you should avoid having visitors to your home, but it’s OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food.”

People are also told not use public transport or taxis until 14 days after their return from Wuhan or Hubei Province (or elsewhere in China or specified areas if they have symptoms).

New powers in public health

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has announced strengthened legal powers to bolster public health protections against coronavirus. And while there are no current medicine shortages in the UK linked to the situation, DHSC is evaluating the potential impact of coronavirus on the supply of medicines and medical goods. It has asked suppliers to carry out a risk assessment on the impact of the virus on their business. They have also been asked to retain where possible existing stockpiles of medical supplies, compiled as a contingency measure ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Health Minister Nicola Blackwood said: “We are not aware of any current medicine shortages linked to this novel coronavirus, but we are putting in place common-sense measures as a precaution to help to ensure the uninterrupted supply of medicines to UK patients.

“We have world-class systems in place to prevent supply problems and we are working closely with industry and partners to prevent shortages and ensure the risks to patients are minimised.”

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