# What is the coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. This strain, COVID-19, is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in January 2020.
What are the symptoms?
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:
- A cough
- A high temperature
- Shortness of breath
If you are worried about symptoms, please call NHS 111 or go to the NHS 111 Coronavirus Advice Website. Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environments.
The latest advice and developments on the COVID-19 situation can be found on the GOV.UK website.
# What’s the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
- Wash your hands often with soap (or soap substitutes) and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. This is particularly important after taking public transport.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin. You can download a ’Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ poster (PDF, 940KB) for your workplace from the NHS.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home and work environment.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
# Should our employees take sick leave?
- There is no need for most staff or volunteers to avoid the workplace.
- Staff should stay at home for seven days if they have either:
- a high temperature (37.8 degrees and above)
- a new continuous cough.
- Those who display either of these symptoms do not need to call the NHS to go into self-isolation. If these symptoms continue or worsen after seven days, then contact NHS 111 online. Those without access to the internet should call NHS 111.
- Those in self-isolation should also refer to the government’s stay at home guidance.
- The previous government advice regarding high-risk areas/countries was withdrawn on 13 March 2020 and has been superseded by the above advice.
- Employees who are recommended to self-isolate are entitled to sick leave but not necessarily sick pay, though you may well want to provide this anyway as a matter of being a good employer.
- If employees are required to self-isolate due to COVID-19 or displaying a high temperature or a new continuous cough then they would qualify for statutory sick pay subject to meeting eligibility requirements.
- Employees are entitled to time off to care for a dependent. There is no statutory right to pay for this time off, but your organisation may already have a policy on this.
- You may want to consider revisiting this policy for the COVID-19 situation.