Local implications arising from COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak
I write with an update on the situation regarding the global outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19). A number of Districts have asked for a briefing for their members and this briefing I’m sharing with all KCC Members, District and Borough Members plus through KALC to all local parish and town councils and Kent Members of Parliament.
I would be grateful if you could share this with your local members.
The situation is fast moving and changing daily:
Last Monday (24th February 2020), the case definitions were widened to reflect a localised spread in specific villages in Northern Italy, specific areas in South Korea, plus Iran together with the existing areas in Asia and China (please see the NHS website below for the definitive case definition, maps etc).
As of today (2nd March 2020 9am) we have one confirmed case in Kent; that person has travelled from Italy, all close contacts are being contact traced by our local Public Health England team and advised on appropriate further actions. Nationally there has been 13,525 people tested, 13,485 are negative and 40 are positive.
This information is being published daily at around 2pm here.
PHE also maintain an informative online blog which is available here.
The recommended source of information for the public is now on the NHS website which is here.
People who think they may have symptoms are being pointed to the NHS-111 on-line questionnaire in the first instance, which can be found here.
Public Health England (PHE) continue to provide regular updates on the virus, which provide the most up-to-date and authoritative advice for Members, KCC, Districts and Boroughs, Parish and Town Councils, staff, schools, commissioned service providers and other stakeholders. This advice should be promoted and sign-posted in the event of issues relating to the outbreak being communicated to you by residents or local groups.
Significantly, we should all should continue to promote good infection control as this is the single most important thing we can all do in order to slow down transmission of the virus. These are simple things we can all do to reduce the risk of respiratory and other infections such as seasonal colds and flu such as:
- Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
Links to further nationally published and very useful guidance for schools and education settings, social care and community care settings, employers and business settings and for staff in the transport sector can be found here.
Further, PHE advocates that local Business Continuity Planning policy related to the outbreak is the responsibility of the organisations involved. We therefore continue to work closely with schools, care providers and other stakeholders to seek to ensure that local policy and practice in relation to the outbreak is both proportionate and evidence-led. We further continue to monitor closely community cohesion issues and promote good science, including generic advice on infection control.
Recent days and weeks have brought considerable concerns for a number of residents and communities touched in some way by impacts from the virus at home and abroad. Our public health and emergency planning arrangements in Kent will continue to pull together our hardworking staff, partners and Members to mitigate and minimise impacts from the outbreak wherever possible.
We will continue to do all we can to support residents, schools and businesses. We will also keep you updated and if we can you assist further please let us know.
Andrew Scott-Clark | Director of Public Health | Kent County Council