Coronavirus – The implications for your business
4th March 2020
The Coronavirus disease (now known as COVID-19) was first reported in Hubei Province, China on 31 December 2019. On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organisation declared a public health emergency of international concern and is reporting cases around 80,000 globally, with deaths around 3,000. Being ‘Zoonotic’, the virus can be transferred between animals and humans and primary transfer is thought to be close contact or coughing and sneezing.
At the time of writing, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising against all travel to Hubei Province, and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China, but is not advising against travel to any other country/territory as a result of Coronavirus risks.
Understandably there is increasing worry about the outbreak and the implications it will have on businesses.
In terms of infection control, advice from the World Health Organisation makes it clear that:
‘People with no respiratory symptoms, such as a cough, do not need to wear a medical mask. WHO recommends the use of masks for people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and for those caring for individuals who have symptoms, such as cough and fever. The use of masks is crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone (at home or in a health care facility)’.
This will also ensure that there is no increased wastage of resources and potential shortages of masks which could lead to panic buying.
If you run a business, its important to think about protecting yourselves and staff members by increasing the amount of hand sanitisers available, in particular alcohol hand rub, ensuring that hands are frequently cleaned thoroughly to enable any virus that may be on your hands to be killed.
ACAS have issued in depth advice in terms of employers and employees rights surrounding Coronavirus which may be useful to those who are worried about the effect this may have on their staff and pay should they have to self-isolate or take time off work following a diagnosis:
Employers should begin looking at their current risk assessments in place and action plans should members of staff need to work from home and it is essential good communication is maintained throughout, this will in turn ease any panic or anxiety amongst workplaces.
We understand that policyholders may also be asking questions regarding loss of earnings and Business Interruption and it’s important to check specific exclusions in place for commercial business policies as per policy wordings.
For specific and up to date guidance on the Coronavirus please refer to Public Health England’s Website https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public