Feature articles

04 March 2020

Guidance for pest management companies on Covid-19 Coronavirus

Correct at time of publication (4 March 2020)

The outbreak of New Corona Virus 2019-nCoV, commonly known as Coronavirus or Covid-19, in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province, has had a major impact across the globe. 

Covid-19 Coronavirus advice for pest professionals by British Pest Control Assocaition BPCA

While this is a serious disease, the majority of people seem to have effects similar to seasonal flu. 

Only a small number of people, typically the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions, are likely to experience a significant medical outcome as a result of contracting COVID-19.

This article aims to provide accurate information about the virus, as well as highlight issues for pest professionals to consider, specifically relating to:

  • Symptoms to look out for
  • Impact on employees
  • Advice regarding your workplace
  • Advice when visiting client premises
  • Effect on BPCA meetings and events including PPC Live
  • A comprehensive list of resources which provide more information.

The UK Government is posting daily updates on the situation in the UK, including the risk level and advice for travellers, which can be found here.

This article is not a replacement for the guidance given by medical professionals nor official advice provided by the UK Government on COVID-19. 

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Symptoms of coronavirus

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A cough
  • A high temperature
  • Shortness of breath.

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

Managing employees

As new cases of the virus are reported daily across different countries, there are several suggestions below for pest professionals to consider relating to employee health and safety.

Review staff security and safety 

This should include looking at where there has been potential exposure or quarantine risk.

Assess emergency business continuity and staff remote working areas

For office staff, this can be done according to location, with many companies already implementing remote working policies for office-based staff in high-risk areas. 

Consider foreign travel arrangements

Where travel is necessary, consider risks of flight destination accessibility and alternative options (including airports).

You should review travel insurance policies for business travellers, if any, and whether COVID-19 would be covered. If employees are “stuck” abroad or quarantined (even on a precautionary basis), insurance cover should be checked.

Staff who must travel should check what precautions they are likely to face on transport systems and places of public occupancy where they are going, and take suitable provisions.

COVID-19 advice for returning travellers

Areas have been identified because of the volume of air travel from affected areas, understanding of other travel routes and a number of reported cases. 

For areas with direct flights to the UK the Government is carrying out enhanced monitoring. 

Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people immediately if you’ve travelled to the UK from:

  • Hubei province in China in the last 14 days, even if you do not have symptoms
  • Iran, lockdown areas in northern Italy or special care zones in South Korea since 19 February, even if you do not have symptoms
  • Other parts of mainland China or South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan or Thailand in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if your symptoms are mild)
  • Other parts of northern Italy (anywhere north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini), Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or Vietnam since 19 February and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if your symptoms are mild)

Employees should use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You will risk spreading the virus.

Emergency contact information

Make sure everyone's contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date.

Staff information

Provide staff with regular updates on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace.

Consult relevant government advice

The UK government is updating its advice regularly relating to COVID-19. 

Below there are links to several different government information websites, including advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on travel and Public Health England on coronavirus symptoms and advice for employers.

Sick pay

Any employee absence caused by the Coronavirus outbreak should be dealt with in the same way as any normal absence. 

If an employee is advised to self-isolate for a two-week period, companies could consider home working for that period if possible.

Should this not be possible, the employee will be treated as sick and the normal sick pay will apply, either SSP or contractual sick pay. 

The Government has proposed new legislation that anybody who has contracted Coronavirus or is in self-isolation will be eligible for SSP from the day and the usual three waiting days will not apply. 

Suspected sick employee

If you suspect an employee has the virus, you should follow best practice guidance relating to COVID-19 and businesses should consider what to do in the event an individual refuses to quarantine themselves. 

For further information on what to do if you suspect an employee has contracted Coronavirus, please refer to section 8 of the Government’s guidance, which can be found here.

Equality and diversity

It should also be noted that employers must not single anyone out or treat an employee differently because of race or ethnicity.

coronavirus-hr-advice-bpca 2

Your premises

COVID-19 is thought to be highly infectious, surviving on some surfaces for around 72 hours 

Cleanliness and hygiene provisions should be at the forefront of planning for the virus. It is worth considering the following:

  • Ensure visitors wash hands upon arrival on-site - NHS guidance on handwashing can be found here
  • Attempt to have sanitiser gels and tissues available for staff and visitors if possible, as well as thermometers for employees who could be taken ill
  • Tissues should be disposed of in closable rubbish containers
  • Regular deep cleaning of shared equipment such as keyboards, phones etc 
  • Suspend hotdesking policies wherever possible
  • Dishwashers should be run on a full cycle, and hand and tea towels should be replaced by disposables, with hand gel and wipes available close by
  • Pay particular attention to situations where staff are customer-facing, encountering many people, or undertaking actions where items may have passed through many hands, eg cash handling
  • Maintaining records of visitors, as well as ensuring their traceability by having up to date contact details. Members should also consider whether screening questions should be asked ahead of any visitor attending a site
  • Considering provisions to reduce the number of contractors fully entering a site, eg restricting access to areas of the site or making provisions such as installing visitor-only facilities outside of the main buildings in use.

Visiting your clients

With pest professionals regularly visiting client’s premises, it’s essential that they follow best practice. 

Most people can continue to go to work, visit clients and go into public places.

You only need to stay away from public places (self-isolate) if advised to by the 111 online coronavirus service or a medical professional.

It is however good practice to:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • Wash your hands before and after visiting a client’s site
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • 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 and wash your hands afterwards
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • Pay particular attention to situations where you are undertaking actions where items may have passed through many hands, eg cash handling.

BPCA meetings and events

The health and safety of visitors is at the forefront of BPCA concerns. Meetings and events (including PPC Live) will continue as usual, with the following in place:

  • At every face to face meeting, the BPCA will urge attendees to wash hands upon arrival and would encourage where possible for hands to be dried with disposable paper towels
  • BPCA will also encourage that tissues, hand sanitiser and wipes to be made readily available, where possible, and for tissues and wipes to be disposed of in closeable rubbish containers.
  • We strongly discourage handshaking or other physical contact at meetings
  • We will endeavour to have conference call facilities available at meetings, in the event that participants cannot attend or there are travel bans in place
  • If a BPCA employee displays symptoms consistent with Coronavirus, BPCA will follow best practice guidance, as per advice from Public Health England
  • We will provide updates if any further information comes to light which may impact BPCA meetings. 

Official health advice

UK Government Information on Covid-19: gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

Travel Advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Travel Advice: China: gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china 

Latest News from Public Health England: gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england

Latest News from Health Protection Scotland: https://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/a-to-z-of-topics/covid-19/

Latest News from Public Health Wales: https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/

Latest News from Public Health Agency (NI): https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/

Guidance for Employers on Covid-19: gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19

NHS Advice- Coronavirus: nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

World Health Organisation- Covid-19 Outbreak: who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Legal articles

Burges-Salmon: “How can business respond to the coronavirus”: burges-salmon.com/news-and-insight/legal-updates/international/how-can-business-respond-to-the-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/

CMS Law, “Coronavirus Outbreak: Follow-up Updated Policies on Treatment of Employees”: cms.law/en/chn/publication/coronavirus-outbreak-follow-up-updated-policies-onthe-treatment-of-employees

Eversheds Sutherland, “Fighting the Coronavirus: Key Legal Challenges and Solutions,”: evershedssutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/Energy/Fighting_the_ Coronavirus-_a_cautioned_approach

“What’s Going to Happen with My China-Dependant Supply Chain?”: chinalawblog.com/2020/02/whats-going-to-happen-with-my-chinadependent-supply-chain.html

Source: Online

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