CORONAVIRUS AND WEST EDINBURGH- URGENT UPDATE – 16 MARCH 18:00
Following the COBRA meeting today, all 4 nations of the UK have agreed the following course of action:
IF YOU FEEL UNWELL:
If you have symptoms consistent with COVID19: Fever, shortness of breath and or a persistent cough you AND EVERYONE WHO LIVES WITH YOU must stay at home and self-isolate for 14 DAYS. Only call 111 (NHS 24) or your GP if you are in an at-risk group (older people/other health problems) or if your symptoms worsen dramatically.
After 14 days, if you feel better, no longer have a high temperature and no one else in your home is still sick, you can return to your normal routine. If you have not had any signs of improvement after 7 days of showing symptoms and have not already sought medical advice, you should contact NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. (the 14 day requirement from the WHO is for those who have been exposed to the virus but are not yet showing symptoms)The cough may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean you must continue to self-isolate for more than 14 days.If a case is suspected it won’t be tested routinely. Testing will be conducted on a surveillance basis to gauge infection levels within communities. They plan to sample test over a million people and that will give hyper-accurate data on infection rates and community spread whilst freeing up health care personnel.
OLDER PEOPLE AND THOSE WITH EXISTING HEALTH PROBLEMS
Those with existing, chronic conditions particularly those with low immune systems, heart or lung conditions are being asked to self-isolate now for 12 weeks. The science suggests we are about to enter a phase of rapid acceleration in Virus transmission. Self isolation of these groups is designed to shield the most vulnerable.Older people (over 70) who keep well must dramatically reduce social contact to only essential meetings. If the social contact cannot be avoided try to meet outdoors, while maintaining a safe distance (2m).NHS 24 have set up a helpline specifically for older people to call for advice and information on 0800 028 2816.
Personal and social care services delivered in the home will continue. I asked the cabinet secretary about this this week and all providers are building in infection control measures so that usual services can be provided even for those with the virus and in self-isolation but services may reduce.
Please look out for elderly or infirm neighbours, but be mindful of infection risk. If you have a particular concern about someone you can phone the council’s Social Care Direct Department on: 0131 200 2324If you are a carer for someone in your family, you may want to make an emergency plan with friends or family for the care of your loved one should you fall ill or need to self-isolate. If you are unable to provide care and no plan is in place then you should call social care direct on 0131 200 2324
END TO NORMAL SOCIAL CONTACT
People are advised to work from home unless absolutely necessary.All 4 Governments have agreed that social contact in the healthy UK population should largely end- with people being asked not to use pubs, gyms, clubs and other recreational facilities.All large events are effectively banned.SCHOOLS:Schools will remain open for the time being. The 4 governments have decided this because:
a) It’s easier to kids hand washing and social distancing when supervised
b) Many essential workers will have kids in school
c) Whilst children can catch the virus their symptoms are very mild.Many schools are considering how to deliver lesson content remotely should schools be closed, especially for exam candidates.
WORK AND EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS
Statutory sick pay (SSP) is money paid by employers, casual or agency workers are eligible but self-employed workers are not. SSP is £94.25 a week. The chancellor said that SSP would be paid for people told to isolate even if they do present symptoms. You are now eligible for SSP from first day off (not 4th day as before) and can get a sick note by calling NHS 111.Businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be able to claim back from the government two weeks of SSP paid to staff affected by the virus.Self-employed people will be able to access statutory benefits like universal credit to cover pay.Currently no provision for those zero hour workers earning less than £118 (what you need to earn as minimum for SSP), but it is worth checking with your employer in case they have chosen to set up provision.
SUPPORT FOR AFFECTED BUSINESSES AND EMPLOYEES
The Scottish Government have launched a helpline for businesses adversely affected by the pandemic, the number is 0300 303 0660.The Finance secretary has announced the following package of support:During the 2020-21 financial year, business will be boosted with:
75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020
£80m fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of Covid-19
1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020
A £50 Million hardship fund for anyone who loses their job as a result of the pandemic.
Fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1 April 2020EVENTSAll large events are banned and even small scale ones, weddings etc strenuously discouraged.A number of local organisers of community summer fairs have been in touch to ask about planning. It is estimated that we will reach the peak of the virus in late May or June. It is unlikely that the event restrictions will be lifted until long after this, so you should plan on this basis.
All non essential travel is now effectively suspended.
Council services like bin and recycling services are operating as usual for now and Edinburgh Council has allocated some £2Million funding to pay for measures that will minimise the spread of the disease.For the time being, my office will remain open but casework appointments will be conducted by phone. If you need my help call 01313341814 in the first instance.I’m trying to spend some time each day calling those in self isolation to offer advice, human contact and comfort, it you or someone known to you would appreciate a call email firstname.lastname@example.orgCan I take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt good wishes at this exceptionally difficult time, it is my honour to serve this community in the Scottish Parliament and I will work every waking minute to keep you informed and deal with requests for help.