Coronavirus: New workplace guidance aims to delay outbreak

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The new guidance says food should not be left out for people to share

New guidance has been issued aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus in Scotland’s workplaces.

The latest advice from Health Protection Scotland urges routine cleaning of phones and keypads. It also says food should not be left open for people to share.

The central piece of advice is still to wash hands thoroughly and regularly.

Publication of the guidelines comes after the number of confirmed cases in Scotland rose to 18 on Sunday.

The University of the West of Scotland has confirmed one person from its Lanarkshire campus in Hamilton has tested positive.

The patient is being treated in hospital and is “giving no cause for concern”, the university said.

In a joint statement, the university and NHS Lanarkshire said the person had “limited contact” with a small group of individuals at the university who have all been contacted, are well and have no symptoms.

All University of West of Scotland campuses remain open and students and staff have been asked to attend as normal.

Despite the increase of just two cases in Scotland between Saturday and Sunday, numbers in the UK jumped by the highest single day increase since the first case emerged.

On Sunday, the number of confirmed cases in the UK rose to 278, up from 209 in the previous update.

Prime minister Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee on Monday, which will consider whether it is necessary to move from containment to the delay stage in the UK’s response to the virus.

That could involve new “social distancing” measures such as banning big events, closing schools or encouraging home working.

What is the official advice?

The Scottish government’s check list for the workplace includes:

  • routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched objects and surfaces such as telephones, keyboards, door handles, desks and tables
  • basic hand washing highlighted as the most effective way of preventing the spread of infection. Hand hygiene promoted by ensuring staff, contractors, service users and visitors have access to hand washing facilities and alcohol-based hand rub, where available
  • crockery and cutlery in shared kitchen areas should be cleaned with warm water and detergent and dried thoroughly
  • ensuring food such as crisps and sandwiches should not be left open for communal sharing unless individually wrapped

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Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “This publication has been circulated following general guidance on basic preventative measures against coronavirus and specific guidance for educational settings.

“It contains clear, practical guidance that will ensure workplace staff have the latest information about Covid-19 and how we can all help prevent it from spreading.

“We are well-prepared for an outbreak in Scotland, but the public has a vital role to play in helping us contain any positive cases by keeping themselves informed, and following basic hygiene precautions.

“That includes hand-washing, not touching their faces unless their hands are clean, and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing then putting the tissue in the bin.”

Of 1,957 coronavirus tests carried out in Scotland, 1,939 have been negative.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she expects the number of positive tests to rise “perhaps rapidly in the days to come”.

“It is now likely that we are facing a significant outbreak of coronavirus across the UK,” she said.

However, the “vast majority” of infected people would experience only very mild symptoms and would not need hospital treatment, she added.


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