Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – advice for employers - updated 24/03/20

Posted by FirstCare on 03/02/20 13:36
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The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, and numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the UK continue to grow. It’s crucial that employers and employees are aware of the correct steps to take in stemming its outbreak.

Our employer's guide brings together the most up-to-date sources of information and outlines the steps that FirstCare is taking to support its clients and their employees.

Updated 24th March 2020

The status of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK is changing daily. We will update this blog as regularly as possible during what is a period of unprecedented demand on our service. We are also sending our clients direct updates on changes to our service, as and when they occur.

For the most up-to-date advice, please click on the logos below:

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NHS 111

For advice if you have symptoms


For health information and advice

UK Government

Comprehensive advice on:

  • Protecting yourself and others
  • Employment
  • Business
  • Travel
  • Status of COVID-19 in the UK


What is COVID-19?

Novel (meaning ‘new’) coronavirus or COVID-19 is a disease that can effect your lungs and airways.

It is one of a family of viruses that cause disease in animals, several of which have ‘jumped’ to humans, notably SARS and MERS which have caused more than 1,500 deaths since 2002.

There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19 and it's believed it will take several months to develop one.



From what is known about COVID-19 so far, the symptoms are similar to a seasonal cold or flu, and in most cases people have made a full recovery.

The elderly and those with underlying health conditions, however, are at much greater risk from COVID-19, and should consult NHS 111 immediately if they are affected by any of the following symptoms:

75px chronic-cough-icon@2x A new dry cough and/or sore throat (i.e. which causes repeated coughing)
lungs Difficulty breathing / shortness of breath
thermo High temperature (i.e. you are hot to the touch on your chest or back of your neck)



Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading

Since 23rd March 2020, the Government has required that everyone stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus. You can only leave your home:

  • to shop for basic essentials – only when you really need to
  • to do one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with
  • for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person
  • to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary (i.e. your work can't be done from home)

Who should travel to work?

Since 23rd March 2020, the Government has required that people only travel to work if it can't be done from home.

Non-essential businesses have been forced to close with effect from 23rd March 2020. The Government will review the situation 3 weeks from that date.

Employees whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response or who work in a number of critical sectors can travel to work unless it can be done from home. The children of such workers, who are of school age, will be prioritised for education provision. See this article for a list of the critical sectors.

How to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19

Viruses spread from person to person in droplets from coughs and sneezes. With no vaccine available yet, COVID-19 has already shown the speed at which it can spread, so it's crucial that people take the following steps to stem the outbreak:


Hand hygiene

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially when arriving at work or home, and before eating.
  • Carry and use hand sanitiser where soap and water are unavailable, particularly after touching surfaces in public places.

Social distancing

  • Maintain a distance of at least 2 metres (6 feet, or 3 steps) from other people.
  • Avoid having visitors to your home, including family and friends.
hand stop sign

Don't touch!

Avoid touching your face, particularly:

  • Nose
  • Mouth
  • Eyes

Catch it, bin it, kill it

  • Use disposable tissues to cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • If you don't have a tissue, cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow.
  • Dispose of used tissues immediately, preferably in a covered bin.

Work from home

Since 23rd March the Government has required that everyone stay at home. People should only travel to work if it is absolutely necessary, including:

  • those whose work cannot be done from home
  • employees whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response
  • those who work in a number of critical sectors. (The children of such workers, who are of school age, will be prioritised for education provision. See this article for a list of the critical sectors.)

People who must travel to work should maintain a distance of at least 2 metres (6 feet, or 3 steps) from other people, both during their journey and while at work.


Avoid non-essential travel


Disinfect surfaces

Use sprays and wipes to clean devices and surfaces that are regularly handled, such as:

  • computer keyboards
  • laptops and tablets
  • mobile phones
  • desks
  • door handles


What is FirstCare doing to help?

Triage, tracking and an early warning system

Since COVID-19 first spread to the UK, FirstCare has tracked and recorded details of suspected, confirmed and self-quarantined cases for our clients.

Through our proprietary software, we are able to provide businesses with an early warning system which can alert them within seconds of absences being reported that there is risk of Coronavirus within their organisation. This gives clients the option to implement their infectious disease protocols earlier than ever possible and work towards minimising the impact on their organisations.

With comparable experience, such as the swine flu outbreak of 2009, we are providing callers with appropriate advice about their situation via our 24/7 nurse service. When employees contact FirstCare with upper respiratory symptoms, our Nurse Advisors will take them through our STRAWS healthcare pathway which includes a patient history, full triage and assessment.

If the nurse advisor identifies any Red Flags (i.e. the COVID-19 symptoms listed above), the service user will be advised to refer to or Public Health England for the most up-to-date and relevant guidance.


For more information on our nurse-led service, including FirstCare's Coronavirus Protocol, please contact us or request a call-back using the Get In Touch form at the bottom of this page. 


Sources of further information

Topics: Health, News, wellbeing, coronavirus