CORONAVIRUS NEWS – UK (10/03/2020)
As of 9am on Tuesday, March 10th, there have been:
- 321 confirmed cases of the coronavirus
- 5 deaths
- 18 complete recoveries
The third fatality of the disease occurred on Sunday (8th March), with a man in his 60s becoming the latest victim to lose his life to the coronavirus. However, it should be noted that this gentleman already had significant underlying health conditions.
EasyJet was just one airline to cancel flights to the badly affected parts of Italy following the implementation of stricter restrictions by the Italian government, while concerned Brits were alarmed that dozens of inbound flights from Italy’s quarantine zones were permitted to land in the UK with no checks for the virus.
The number of active COVID-19 cases is increasing every day and experts are still convinced that it is going to spread significantly. For live updates and advice, pay attention to the coronavirus page on GOV.UK.
Alternatively, a page developed by experts at Johns Hopkins University shows the coronavirus in real-time across the globe, including a heat map displaying the number of active cases, deaths and recoveries.
Coronavirus – UK vs other countries
There are currently 319 confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, making it the 11th most affected country in the world (and the 6th in Europe). Only Italy, France and Spain have more recorded deaths than the UK in Europe.
Following an emergency Cobra meeting on Monday (9th March), a statement from Number 10 insists that some of the more extreme measures being undertaken by other countries, such as social distancing, will not yet be introduced.
It did admit, however, that the virus was likely to spread “in a significant way” and future school closures and event cancellations have been considered. Employers could also be encouraged to allow people to work from home to avoid crowded public transport routes.
As it stands, the only people being advised to self-isolate are those who have recently returned from ‘locked down’ areas like Northern Italy or China – those who have returned from elsewhere should only self-isolate if, upon returning, they begin to experience the various symptoms of COVID-19.
Despite the relatively relaxed approach to protecting against the coronavirus, a spokesperson for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has warned of the similarities between the UK’s current situation and that of Italy just weeks ago – the latter is now on lockdown with more than 9,100 confirmed cases and 463 deaths.
Who is vulnerable to the coronavirus?
Anybody can be diagnosed with the coronavirus, but there are select individuals who are more likely to contract the disease. There are also individuals who are at an increased risk of the coronavirus developing into a life-threatening condition.
Those who are deemed to be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 include:
- The elderly
- Those with weakened or compromised immune systems
- Those with underlying medical conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart disease
Remember, the vast majority of coronavirus cases are cured with a few days’ rest. While those who are more vulnerable should take extra care with where they travel and who they come into contact with on a regular basis, diagnosed cases have so far rarely proven to be serious and the chances of dying from the disease are extraordinarily slim.
Why are there more recoveries than deaths?
When first identified in China in late December, COVID-19 had a mortality rate as high as 15% - this has been decreasing ever since and, in many countries outside of China, the percentage of people with the disease who end up dying is as low as 0.7%.
As of March 10th 2020, only 3.5% of those diagnosed with the coronavirus worldwide have died. In the UK, this figure is just 1.6%.
56% of worldwide cases have made a full recovery, while around 41% of cases are still active.
The reason behind the declining mortality rate (and increase in recoveries) can mainly be attributed to the increased level of care and attention given to both potential and existing cases of COVID-19. Medical professionals have also managed to learn a considerable amount about the disease, how it is spread and the various ways in which it can be restricted in the few months that it has been active.
Coronavirus information: How to stay safe
While we mentioned earlier that the coronavirus is often cured naturally, there are a number of now well-documented steps you can take to minimise your chances of contracting the virus:
- Regularly wash your hands for around 20 seconds with either hot water and soap or sanitiser gel.
- Always try to use a tissue when you cough or sneeze to prevent the spread of germs.
- Dispose of any used tissues in the bin immediately after use (wash your hands after)
- If you don’t have access to a tissue then try to cough/sneeze into your sleeve
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth when you have not washed your hands
- Avoid coming into contact with people who are unwell, even if they haven’t been officially diagnosed with the virus
Some of the symptoms associated with the coronavirus are similar to those of a common cold or flu, meaning it can sometimes be difficult to establish just how serious your illness is. The best advice we can give is to be cautious and, if you have reason to believe that you could have contracted the disease (perhaps if you’ve been travelling, or know somebody who has) then seek expert advice.
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- Difficulty when breathing
- Fever and tiredness
- A cough
- Muscle pain
How is coronavirus spread? What if I have ordered a parcel from China or another affected area?
Understandably, many people are concerned that parcels that they’ve ordered from abroad could be infected; however, there is currently no evidence to suggest that this is the case.
The coronavirus is still a relatively new disease, and for that reason, it is not known exactly how it spreads – similar viruses are known to spread via cough droplets.
Coronavirus – What is self-isolation?
If you have been advised by a professional to self-isolate, you will be required to stay indoors for 14 days with no physical contact with anybody.
You may be told to self-isolate if:
- You have recently returned home from an affected area
- You have recently been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed
- You have been tested for the virus and are awaiting results
When in self-isolation, there a number of important things to remember to do which might not always come naturally. For example:
- Setting up a bathroom rota or, if possible, using your own dedicated bathroom
- Requesting that any delivery drivers leave items outside for collection
- Using different towels, dishcloths etc. from everybody else in the house
- Avoid contact with pets
Will I get paid when in self-isolation?
As is the case with most other illnesses, sick pay policies vary from employer-to-employer – these policies, however, are unlikely to have details regarding the need to self-isolate written into them.
This is because some workers who are asked to self-isolate are not necessarily sick, so therefore might not be entitled to the usual amount – whether or not this is the case is entirely at the discretion of the employers, but all are naturally urged to be lenient.
Coronavirus & Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Those who are not automatically entitled to fully paid sick leave might still be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) which, for those entering self-isolation, kicks in from the very first day that you are unable to attend work.
The minimum SSP payment is £94.25 per week, but this can be increased by an employer at their discretion.
In order to be entitled for SSP you must:
- Have an employment contract
- Earn at least £118 a week
- Have proof that you have been asked to self-isolate
If you are self-employed then you will not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, while part-time/zero-hours contract workers are at risk of going without pay if caught up in the coronavirus outbreak. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has run the calculations and found that a worrying 2 million workers would not be eligible.
Coronavirus, holidays & travel insurance
Although perhaps insignificant when compared to the risk of life, millions of UK holidaymakers could be forced to rearrange or even cancel their travel plans this year due to the coronavirus outbreak – and not all travel insurance providers will pay out.
Some travel insurance providers are no longer selling policies which cover travel to affected areas (but will still honour any existing policies), while others have said that whether or not they will pay out will be managed on a case-by-case basis.
An Admiral travel insurance policy, for example, will not pay out for any claims if you travel against the advice of the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO), but if the area that you are planning on travelling to becomes affected before you travel, you’ll be able to claim for any travel and/or accommodation costs. It is always best to contact your own insurer to find out where you stand.
You can find out more about how the coronavirus will affect your travel plans in our guide here, or by contacting either your insurance provider or travel agent directly.