‘Really important that we reduce the negative impact on businesses’

Nov 09, 2020

Covid-19: Public health chief tells businesses to stay alert ‘to control the virus in our community’

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WORKPLACES will remain an “area of focus” as work continues to contain the rise in coronavirus cases once lockdown ends on December 2.

The restrictions mean that many premises are closed but some remain open. A health boss in Milton Keynes has called on businesses to remain vigilant and ensure they are aware of the steps they must follow if employees test positive for Covid-19.

Local cases of the virus continue to rise and cases among the working age population are now beginning to accelerate.  Two moderate outbreaks were reported in Milton Keynes workplaces last month, both of which involved several staff and had a significant impact on the businesses.

Milton Keynes Council’s deputy director of public health Oliver Mytton said: “My colleagues in Public Health and Environmental Health are here to provide support and guidance should an outbreak of Covid-19 occur in the workplace.  

“We will work with those businesses to reduce the risk of further transmission by identifying close contacts and any further control measures required on site.  

“It is really important that we can reduce the negative impact on local businesses and help control the virus in our community.”

Employers must report confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the workforce by:

  1. Contacting the Public Health England Health Protection Team on 0300 303 8537 or EoE.CRC@phe.gov.uk
     
  2. Notifying Milton Keynes Council via the online form
  3. The council has also produced a downloadable employee wellbeing toolkit to help employers to support their staff during this time.

Employers must take the right precautions for their workforce in order to protect staff from unnecessary risks, it says.  This includes:

  1. Encouraging workers who can do so effectively to work from home during the winter;
  2. Social distancing measures and appropriate signage within the workplace;
  3. Other preventative measures such as the need for staff and visitors/customers to wear face coverings (depending on the individual business in line with national guidance);
  4. Consideration for those employees at higher clinical risk.

Mr Mytton said: “The winter months will be difficult so local efforts to prevent the spread of the virus are critical. We know workplaces can be the source of outbreaks and this must remain an area of focus. I am urging local businesses to continue following the guidance and maintaining the important measures that will minimise the risk of this virus spreading.”

The UK government regularly updates its latest information and advice webpage.  Further information and support on how to manage a positive or suspected case(s) of Covid-19 in the workplace can be found on the council’s workplace health webpages.

The government has also launched a new Self isolation Service Hub, a telephone line for employers and establishments to provide to NHS Test & Trace with a list of people who have been identified as contacts of a case of Covid-19 in their establishment and therefore who must self-isolate.

Employers should call 020 3743 6715 following each positive case in their establishment because all contacts identified are then formally logged with NHS Test & Trace.  Without the NHS Test & Trace reference, they cannot receive financial support and will not receive formal notification that they have been identified as a contact of a confirmed case.

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