Guidance on managing coronavirus issues at work
Although the number of reported cases of coronavirus in the UK are low, the situation is quickly evolving. There are a number of risks posed by the virus that employers will need to be aware of, and it is important to remember that employers have a duty of care towards their employees and should take reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of their workforce.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) explains that coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). This particular episode has been named “COVID–19”. It first appeared in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. A seafood market has been identified as the possible source of the virus.
Cases in several countries have now emerged, with the majority of infections appearing in individuals who originate from, or who have travelled to, Wuhan. However, at least one infected individual had not recently been to China but is married to someone who had. This shows that the virus can be passed from person to person. At the time of writing, there are over 80,000 reported cases.
The symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some people may suffer from a mild illness and recover easily, while in other cases, infection can progress to pneumonia. Reports suggest that the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease are the most susceptible to serious illness and death. Symptoms can appear in as few as two days after infection or as long as 14 days
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