On 18th March, it was announced that schools would be closing after Friday 20th March 2020, with the exception of school provision needing to be made for children of “key workers”. Increases in testing were also announced.
There are 6 key actions identified as part of the current approach:
1) Washing hands regularly with soap and water is one of the best ways to prevent spread of the infection, and making sure we clean surfaces that are regularly touched with detergents and chlorine based disinfectants (1000 ppm chlorine)
2) Whole household isolation if someone in the household develops COVID-19 symptoms (see below section on Household isolation)
3) Stopping all unnecessary social contact with others and unnecessary travel - this advice is particularly important for people with certain health conditions, people over the age of 70 and pregnant women (see below section on Social distancing advice)
4) Those with the most serious health conditions will be contacted directly on Monday 23rd March about further restrictions, likely to be put in place for around 12 weeks
5) Advice against mass gatherings, as part of reducing social contact, but also ensuring critical workers can be used instead to support COVID-19 work.
6) School closure with the exception of school provision being made for “key workers”, to include health and care workers, supermarket delivery drivers, the police. Further details of the “key worker group” are to be published. Meals and vouchers will be provided for children who usually have free school meals.
Please see here for national advice documents translated into a range of languages, courtesy of Doctors of the World
Detailed information and advice for the public about what they, and their family contacts, should do can be found here on the NHS.uk website (and will be regularly updated). There is some very important detail in the Stay at Home guidance, including at what point people are able to come out of self-isolation, which can be found here
People do not need to phone NHS111 if their symptoms are mild but should do if their symptoms worsen/if they need medical care, or if symptoms do not get better after 7 days. There is also a 111 online service that people are being asked to use in the first instance. Please call 999 in an emergency
Social distancing advice
Information for the public, and particularly for people aged over 70, people with certain health conditions and pregnant women can be found here
Please see PHE advice against use of COVID rapid tests that are being marketed here
Department of Education have a helpline up and running to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
It is extremely important, as the national situation evolves, that we think about how we can best support the mental health and wellbeing of people affected by the outbreak – individuals, families, workplaces, schools, as well as people who are working hard to protect the health of our communities. The Mental Health foundation has some good advice here. Also, following simple advice about washing our hands more regularly with soap and water really can make a difference.