Guidance on COVID-19, including general precautions for staff and guidance on the assessment and management of arrivals into the UK.
An assessment has been undertaken of the overarching health and safety risks presented to staff by the current spread of a novel coronavirus; COVID-19.
This advice is based on Public Health England (PHE) guidance and is intended to supplement existing health and safety control measures. It should be read in conjunction with existing risk assessments and safe systems of work. It remains the responsibility of individual employers to provide appropriate risk-based guidance to their own staff.
This guidance will assist transport settings in addressing coronavirus (COVID-19).
This guidance may be updated in line with the changing situation.
What you need to know
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. COVID-19 is caused by a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China in December 2019.
The incubation period of COVID-19 is between 2 and 14 days. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, they are unlikely to develop symptoms.
- if someone becomes unwell while in your company with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home
- everyone should wash their hands for 20 seconds and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues
- frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products
- advise drivers they should not travel if they are feeling unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) - a new, continuous cough or a high temperature. This will also help to protect others from infection
- use announcements in to reinforce key messages, such as washing hands before and after travel, and what to do if unwell
Signs and symptoms of Coronavirus COVID-19
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:
Coronavirus infects the lungs. The symptoms start with a fever followed by a dry cough, which can lead to breathing problems.
- a fever - 37.8C or greater
- a new, continuous dry cough - coughing a lot for more than an hour, or having three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).
- difficulty breathing
People will be most infectious when they have symptoms, but there have been suggestions some can spread the virus even before they are sick.
The early symptoms can easily be confused with other winter bugs including colds and flu.
For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild infection. Generally, these infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions.
How coronavirus COVID-19 is caught and spread
Although evidence is still emerging, information to date indicates human-to-human transmission is occurring. Transmission of COVID-19 is most likely to happen when there is close contact (within 2 metres) with a symptomatic individual. It is likely that the risk of transmission increases the longer someone has close contact with an infected person.
Respiratory secretions produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes containing the virus are most likely to be the main means of transmission.
There are two main routes by which COVID-19 can be transmitted:
- infection can be spread to people through close contact (within 2 metres) with infected individuals and respiratory droplets generated during coughing and sneezing
- it is also possible that someone may become infected by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as touching a door knob or shaking hands then touching own face)
So, coughing and sneezing into tissues, not touching your face with unwashed hands, and avoiding close contact with infected people are important for limiting the spread.
Face masks do not provide effective protection, according to medical experts.
It is advisable to check Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and local guidance and advice on avoiding infection during the current outbreak if travelling overseas.
Information for the public on the outbreak of coronavirus in China, including the current situation in the UK and information about the virus and its symptoms is available below.
In practice, it can be difficult to ascertain with any degree of reliability if someone who is asymptomatic has been exposed if they do not report this directly.
COVID-19: track coronavirus cases
Dashboard showing reported cases of coronavirus in the UK, including new cases, cases by upper tier local authority in England and number of deaths.
This data shows:
- reported cases of coronavirus in the UK
- reported cases per upper tier local authority (UTLA) in England
- new cases confirmed each day
- number of UK deaths due to coronavirus
You can download the data in .csv format:
Note: this service is still being developed and will continue to evolve.
Notes on the methodology
This service shows case numbers as reported to Public Health England (PHE), matched to Administrative Geography Codes from the Office of National Statistics. Cases include people who have recovered.
Events are time-stamped on the date that PHE was informed of the new case or death.
The map shows circles that grow or shrink in line with the number of cases in that geographic area.
Data from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is represented on the charts, total indicators and on the country level map layer.
Taking necessary precautions
There is currently no vaccine for coronavirus but there are things you can do to help stop coronavirus spreading.
Public Health England (PHE) recommends that the following general cold and flu precautions are taken to help prevent people from catching and spreading COVID-19:
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin straight away
- wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
Hand hygiene standards to follow
Everyone should wash their hands regularly. Washing with water and soap is preferable to wipes and gels as it removes any potential infection directly. Wipes and gels are good alternatives if that’s all you have available. See hand washing guidance.
How long the virus can survive
How long any respiratory virus survives will depend on a number of factors, for example:
- the surface the virus is on
- whether it is exposed to sunlight
- environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity
- exposure to cleaning products
Under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 72 hours.
We know that similar viruses are transferred to and by people’s hands. Therefore, regular hand hygiene and cleaning of frequently touched surfaces will help to reduce the risk of infection.
What to do if someone develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) in a transport setting
If anyone becomes unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) in a transport setting they should be sent home and advised to follow the stay at home guidance.
If they need clinical advice, they should go online to NHS 111 (or call 111 if they don’t have internet access). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.
If a member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell.
It is not necessary to close the transport setting or send any staff home, unless government policy changes. Keep monitoring the website for the latest details.
What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?
Patients with mild symptoms - such as a new continuous cough or a high temperature above 37.8C should self-isolate at home for at least seven days, according to the latest advice issued by Public Health England.
People are being advised not to ring NHS 111 to report their symptoms unless they are worried. They should also not go to their GP, or A&E.
If you have come into contact with somebody who may be infected, you may be told to self-isolate. Advice for people who have travelled back to the UK from affected areas and who may need to self-isolate, has been issued.
Anyone who has symptoms should be advised to quickly and directly go home, to remain there and avoid contact with other people. If using public transport, they should try to keep away from other people and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue.
This will prevent them from spreading the disease to family, friends and the wider community.
Limiting spread in transport hubs
Transport hubs should use posters and announcements to remind travellers and staff to wash their hands often and follow general hygiene advice. Posters, leaflets and other materials available.
Handling baggage, post or freight
There is no known increase in risk for handling baggage, post or freight from specified countries. Staff should continue to follow existing risk assessments and safe systems of work.
Arrivals into the UK
Maritime Declarations of Health are already required for all ships arriving from a foreign port. If the maritime declaration of health reports any instances of illness, the usual procedures for infectious diseases will be followed.
In addition, for vessels that arrive with potential cases, PHE’s local Health Protection Team (HPT) will deliver enhanced port health monitoring commensurate with that in place at airports for the passengers and crew on board.
Enhanced monitoring arrangements involve assessing recent travel history; who they have been in contact with and where they are going next, as well as a possible medical assessment. Medical assessments will be carried out by trained medical staff and not by Border Force or other staff.
Passengers and crew will also be given advice on what to do should they develop symptoms later, again consistent with enhanced monitoring arrangements at airports
All passengers will be provided with information leaflets on arrival in the UK.
All flights to the UK are required to:
- provide health announcements to passengers relating to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
- provide information to the relevant airport in line with standard operating procedure, and to the PHE Health Control Unit at London Heathrow (LHR), in the event that there is a seriously unwell passenger
Performing body or bag searches
PHE recommends that passengers be asked if they have a new, continuous cough or a high temperature prior to the search. PHE recommend that staff consider wearing gloves for each search and wash their hands as frequently as possible.
Toilet and shower facilities
Current government advice is to stay at home and to not undertake non-essential travel. For those for whom travel is essential, for example haulage and delivery drivers, use of facilities at motorway service stations is important. Toilet and shower facilities can remain open subject to implementation of targeted or specific additional measures consistent with current guidelines. As follows:
All individuals using the facilities should be reminded to:
- wash their hands for 20 seconds, more frequently than usual, each day
- catch coughs and sneezes in tissues or cover their mouth and nose with their sleeve (not hands), throw the tissue away and wash their hands immediately
- use hand sanitiser gel in addition to soap and water or on its own if soap and water are not available
See HGV Alliances fight for the drivers for their right to facilities here
If you are still being refused your rights, report in the link above
Social distancing between individuals should be practised for anyone using the facilities – with people staying a minimum of 2 metres from each other, which in practice may mean that only one individual uses the facilities at any one time should the size of the facility be insufficient to allow enough distance between users.
Cleaning an area with normal household disinfectant will reduce the risk of passing coronavirus (COVID-19) infection on to other people, so regular cleaning of facilities such as showers and toilets should be implemented. Normal cleaning frequencies will need to be increased depending on how often the facilities are used. For example, if there is a high level of usage, the normal cleaning frequency should be doubled. This will need to be a local decision as cleaning frequencies may vary throughout the day depending on the number of users of the facilities. Hard surfaces that are touched frequently (for example door handles, grab rails) should also be cleaned more frequently in addition to standard cleaning protocols:
- clean and disinfect regularly-touched objects and surfaces more often than usual using standard cleaning or household disinfection products
- follow the guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings
In the event of any individuals showing symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) – such as a new, continuous cough or a high temperature – they should not use the facility and should be referred to the advice on the NHS website.
See HGV Alliances fight for the drivers for their right to social distancing here
If you are still being refused your rights, report in the link above
If a passenger becomes symptomatic on-board a vessel, train or aircraft
Cooperate with the emergency medical service or public health officials at the relevant port or airport, as far as possible.
Keep your transport company operations centre informed of any requests by the public health officials such as requests for passenger information (except where provided by the passengers themselves) and crew details.
If the emergency medical services or public health officials are concerned that the ill person may have COVID-19, they are likely to request specific information to assist with the clinical and public health risk assessment, such as:
- what are the main symptoms of the case?
- do they have a fever?
- were they unwell during the journey and if so:
- what symptoms did they have?
- were there any episodes of contamination with bodily fluids (including vomit, diarrhoea and blood) of the crew or passengers during the journey or during disembarkation?
- are there any co-passengers? Clarify with them, about both the case and themselves
- how long the case has been unwell?
- what have the symptoms been?
- have they had a temperature?
- where exactly have they come from?
- have the co-passengers experienced any symptoms, and if so, clarify using the information above
Coronavirus symptoms are similar to a flu-like illness and include cough, fever, or shortness of breath. Once symptomatic, all surfaces that the passenger has come into contact with must be cleaned including:
- all surfaces and objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids
- all potentially contaminated high-contact areas such as steering wheels, in cab dash, door handles, telephones, toilets
- clothing and linen used by the passenger should be set aside pending assessment of the passenger by a healthcare professional
Public areas where a symptomatic passenger has passed through and spent minimal time in (such as corridors) but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids do not need to be specially cleaned and disinfected.
Further advice on environmental cleaning standards for potential COVID-19 contamination is available.
Cleaning and waste
The advice in this document can be applied to any non-healthcare settingwhere a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case has spent time while symptomatic. For the purposes of this guidance, a possible case of COVID-19 is someone undergoing testing but COVID-19 has not yet been excluded, and a confirmed case is someone known to have a positive laboratory test for COVID-19.
Previous experience of new coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) has been used to inform this guidance. The risk of infection transmission depends on numerous factors, including the type of surfaces contaminated, the amount of virus shed from the individual, the time the individual spent in the setting and the time since the individual was last in the setting.
The infection risk from environmental contamination will decrease over time, but it is still unclear at what point there is no risk of transmission from the environment; however, studies of SARS and MERS suggest that, in most circumstances, the risk is likely to be reduced significantly after 72 hours.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
The minimum PPE required to be worn for decontaminating an area where a possible or confirmed case has been includes disposable gloves and apron. Hands should be washed with soap and water after all PPE has been removed.
If a risk assessment of the setting indicates that a higher level of contamination may be present (for example where unwell individuals have slept such as a hotel room or boarding school dormitory) or there is visible contamination with body fluids, then the need for additional PPE such as a surgical facemask and full-face visor should be considered. The local Health Protection Team can advise on this.
Most other settings where the person has spent shorter periods of time (such as a waiting room, cinema, restaurants, gyms) are likely to have lower levels of contamination and therefore the risk of onward transmission of infection will be lower.
Cleaning and disinfection
Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time in (such as corridors) but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids can be cleaned as directed by any existing workplace risk assessment or manufacturer’s instructions on the safe use of their cleaning products.
All surfaces that the symptomatic person has come into contact with must be cleaned and disinfected, including:
- objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids
- all potentially contaminated high-contact areas such as bathrooms, door handles, telephones, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells
Use disposable cloths or paper roll and disposable mop heads, to clean and disinfect all hard surfaces or floor or chairs or door handles and sanitary fittings in the room, following one of the two options below:
- use either a combined detergent disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million available chlorine
- a household detergent followed by disinfection (1,000 ppm av.cl.). Follow manufacturer’s instructions for dilution, application and contact times for all detergents and disinfectants
- if an alternative disinfectant is used within the organisation, this should be checked and ensure that it is effective against enveloped viruses
Avoid creating splashes and spray when cleaning.
Any cloths and mop heads used must be disposed of and should be put into the waste bags as outlined below.
When items cannot be cleaned using detergents or laundered, for example upholstered furniture and mattresses, steam cleaning may be used.
Spillages of blood and body fluids should be managed in accordance with the organisations spillage policy, before cleaning and disinfection. If any items are heavily contaminated with body fluids and cannot be appropriately cleaned, consider discarding. Gain permission to do this from the owner.
If an area can be kept closed and secure for 72 hours, wait until this time for cleaning, as the amount of virus contamination will have decreased significantly. The area can then be cleaned as directed by any existing workplace risk assessment or manufacturer’s instructions on the safe use of their cleaning products.
Items heavily soiled with body fluids should be disposed of. Gain the permission of the owner to do this.
Remove any clothes, soft or fabric window hangings and curtains, bedding and any other laundry items and place in a bag for transportation to the point of laundering. Do not shake items or avoid all necessary agitation.
Store the used linen in a suitable and secure place and marked for storage until the individual’s test results are known.
If the individual test result is negative, usual laundering processes can be followed.
If the individual test result is positive:
- wash items on the hottest temperature setting the fabric will tolerate
- gloves and apron should be used when loading laundry into a machine. Laundry bag to be disposed of as per waste management guidance outlined below
Waste from possible cases and cleaning of areas where possible cases have been (including disposable cloths, tissues) should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full. The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied. It should be put in a suitable and secure place and marked for storage until the individual’s test results are known. Waste should NOT be left unsupervised awaiting collection. You should NOT put your waste in communal waste areas until negative test results are known or the waste has been stored for at least 72 hours.
If the individual test is negative, this can be put in with the normal waste.
If the individual tests positive, then store it for at least 72 hours and put in with the normal waste.
If storage for at least 72 hours is not appropriate, arrange for collection as a Category B infectious waste either by your local waste collection authority if they currently collect your waste or otherwise by a specialist clinical waste contractor. They will place your bags in orange infectious healthcare waste bags for appropriate treatment.
Follow up of persons involved in environmental decontamination
The names and contact details of those carrying out cleaning of an area that a possible case has been in should be recorded by the person responsible for this setting. As part of the contact tracing process for a confirmed case, the local Health Protection Team will advise on arrangements for follow up required for 14 days after the cleaning process took place.
Find guidance about coronavirus (COVID-19) for health professionals and other organisations.
NHS information about how coronavirus is spread and how to avoid catching or spreading germs.
Guidance for British people travelling and living overseas following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Stay at home guidance for people with confirmed or possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.
Find out the number of cases and risk level in the UK, what to do if you have symptoms, and what the government is doing about the virus.
The Budget 2020 has announced a plan to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19. This guidance gives further detail on the measures announced by the Chancellor including additional funding, Statutory Sick Pay changes, and an increase in the Business Rates retail discount for one year.
Additional guidance has been published in relation to the current COVID-19 outbreak aimed at healthcare workers.
Hand washing techniques - PDF, 122KB, 2 pages
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