Two more people in the UK have died as a result of coronavirus, bringing the total to eight, and the World Health Organisation categorised the virus as a pandemic. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that the UK can expect the peak of the outbreak “in a matter of a couple of months.”
Hancock told MPs he would be meeting with the opposition to discuss emergency laws that will be set out next week, adding: “The best way for us to beat it is for us to work together.”
The legislation is expected to contain measures to keep public services up and running, help businesses and ensure that the adult social care sector is ready for the coming weeks.
He said Parliament would stay open as the public expects it to “get on with its job”.
The Prime Minister is understood to be hosting a follow-up after the Government’s Cobra meeting on Thursday last week.
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What are your rights concerning coronavirus and working from home?
Any employee who has been asked to self-isolate are entitled to take the time off as sick leave, according to the Health Secretary.
He added self-isolation should be considered as “sickness” for employment purposes.
How much you will receive will depend on your contract as most employers are offering a certain number of sick days on full pay.
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Even if your employer does not offer sick pay, workers are entitled to statutory sick pay which can be granted for up to 28 weeks and amounts to £94.25 per week.
You will be able to claim the SSP from the first day of being off sick.
Those who are expected to be hardest hits are those who rely on self-employment or who work on a freelance basis, who are not entitled to the SSP if they self-isolate.
The Department for Work and Pensions ha said that anyone deemed a public health risk could claim Universal Credit or contributory employment and support allowance.
Should you be working from home?
Public Health England is advising people only to self-isolate under very specific circumstance, including: Anyone waiting for coronavirus test results, anyone who has come into contact with a confirmed infected person, and anyone returning from a country significantly disrupted by the virus.
Instead of sending employees home, PHE recommends employers that if a workplace has a confirmed case of the virus then they should instead wait to be contacted by a local Health Protection Team to discuss and determine what measures, if any, should be taken.
The latest government guidelines for anyone who has come into contact with COVID-19 is to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact with the infected person.
The official guidelines state: “If they are unwell at any time within their 14-day observation period and they test positive for COVID-19 they will become a confirmed case and will be treated for the infection.”
What is the government’s plan?
The Prime Minister is expected to chair another meeting with the Cobra emergency committee today and is understood to be rubber stamping a decision to move from containment to implementing a delay.
The meeting will raise measures such as school closures, limits on public gatherings, working from home and scaling back on non-urgent medical issues and fire services.
The government’s official coronavirus plan states that possible actions could be implemented including “population distancing strategies such as school closures, encouraging greater home working, reducing the number of large-scale gatherings.”
It adds: “We would consider such measures in order to protect vulnerable individuals with underlying illnesses and thus at greater risk of becoming seriously affected by the disease.
“The effectiveness of these actions will need to be balanced against their impact on society.”
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