We could not profess to be a Health and Safety business if we didn’t mention the current situation affecting us all regarding the spread of the Coronavirus and the threat that it now poses to our health and livelihoods. Not yet at pandemic proportions globally, we are being told that more cases are being diagnosed across the UK on a daily basis and it makes sense that we know the risks and how best to protect ourselves.
This time of year, colds and flu are rife so how do you determine if what you are suffering with is just a common cold or something more sinister? A cold (or man flu as some may call it!), without a doubt, makes you feel rough. However, it doesn’t normally give you shortness of breath and a raging fever. These seem to be the distinguishing trademarks of Coronavirus along with the cough. Think, have you been in contact with someone who has traveled from any affected areas? If the answer is yes, you may want to consider either a test or at least self isolating. If you are lucky enough to normally enjoy good health, it has been reported that this virus will produce mild to moderate symptoms. Those with underlying health conditions may not be so fortunate.
Hand hygiene is being lauded as the best way to prevent its transmission. Yes, washing your hands, for at least 20 seconds with good old soap and water. If you can sing Happy Birthday, do it twice and that should cover you. Pay good attention to bits that normally only get a quick rinse and use a nailbrush for good measure.
Hand sanitiser is also a good shout but make sure it has alcohol in it. It is alcohol that actively kills the virus and no that doesn’t mean a trip to the pub for good measure! Keep your hands away from your face! It sounds pretty basic but touching your face, nose and mouth is one of the most common ways to transmit a virus and it has already been shown that this virus can live on hard surfaces for several hours.
‘Coughs and sneezes spread diseases’ was a catchphrase coined by the NHS all the way back in 1946 and it still holds true today. Catch it, bin it, kill it is a bit more up to date. Both hold great resonance today.
Face masks, if you can get hold of them, are not considered to be the best way to protect yourself. They will give some protection, however, they need to be changed regularly and disposed of correctly. Self isolating has been advised in the event of a suspected case but this means more than just staying at home for a period of at least 14 days. Self imposed quarantine is not something that any of us would relish and brings a whole realm of inconveniences to our everyday lives. No work but also no play, sounds like a whole lot of fun, not. Living on your own is one thing but with family members having to do the same thing, not sharing bathrooms, etc, it really makes for a difficult and stressful existence.
The BBC have just issued a stark warning that up to a fifth of the UK workforce could be off sick during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak. I get the idea that Boris’s ‘significant expansion’ of numbers discussed yesterday is expected rather than predicted.
IOSH are working with the WHO and have provided a link with information on the Coronavirus dated 2nd March 2020. Check this out here.
Until more is known about this virus and a vaccine developed, we need to be aware of its path and limit its destructive capabilities as much as we possibly can.
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