COVID – 19 FAQs

Coronavirus advice & guidance

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, I have been contacted by many constituents concerned by how this pandemic impacts them and what they should do. I have set out advice and online resources below from the NHS, the Government, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council and more to assist you. If you have a specific query please contact me by email or phone.

Following the announcement made by the Prime Minister on 23rd March, the United Kingdom, including Oldham East and Saddleworth remains in lockdown. During the statement on 10th May, the Prime Minister announced some restrictions have been relaxed. However, everyone should still continue to stay at home as much as possible. You should only leave your house to buy essential supplies including foods or medicines, or to go to work, if you are a key worker or cannot work from home and for daily exercise. You may also leave your house if you are helping to care for a vulnerable person. When you go out, please make sure you maintain 2 meters between yourself and other people at all times. The most up to date guidance can be found here and below – please do refer to this.

The good news is that the majority of people who become infected with Covid-19 will experience mild or moderate symptoms, and will be able to cope at home without needing to contact the NHS. Some people may have the virus and not even know it!

What are the symptoms of Covid-19 infection?

The NHS has identified the following symptoms of Covid-19:

  • A dry cough
  • A high temperature (over 37 degrees Celsius)
  • Shortness of breath

It’s possible to have these symptoms but not have Covid-19. You might have a cold, the flu or another common illness instead.

If you have these symptoms, you need to isolate yourself at home for 7 days. If you live with someone with Covid-19 symptoms, please stay at home for 14 days. Please do not visit GPs, pharmacies or other NHS facilities.

If need advice or become more unwell, please use their online services (instead of phoning) where possible.

What can I do to prevent the spread of Covid-19?

The best way to help and to stay healthy is to follow the advice of the NHS. This can change as we understand more how the virus affects us and is transmitted between people, so please check the latest advice every other day.

Right now, this means everyone must make every effort to stay at home and practise social distancing.

Details:

  1. Stay at home.
  2. Only leave the house to purchase food/supplies/medicine (as infrequently as possible), to go to work if you cannot work from home, to care for a vulnerable person and to exercise (unlimited). Please keep 2 metres away from people not in your household, even if you are outside, including on your commute. This includes greetings, handshakes and goodbyes
  3. Wash your hands with soap/sanitiser frequently and making sure you catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue and throw that in the bin
  4. From 1st of June, groups of up to six people will be able to meet outdoors in England from Monday 1 June, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces, provided you continue to follow strict social distancing guidelines

If you can, please work from home, however it has also been advised to avoid public transport as much as possible. When social distancing is more difficult such as on public transport or enclosed spaces, the Government has advised covering your mouth and nose.

It is essential that if you, or someone in your household, has CV-19 symptoms you stay at home in self isolation for 14 days. CV-19 is very infectious; it can be transmitted to others even when an individual has no symptoms.  You can find self isolation guidance here.

If your family, friends, or colleagues are displaying symptoms, please advise them to stay at home too.

Should you seek a doctor if you think you have the Covid-19?

The NHS are seeking to increase testing for those with CV-19 symptoms, including a new ‘bedside’ or home test. However, even without confirmation through testing, if you have symptoms please self-isolate. This includes self-isolating from others in your household.

Please do NOT go to your local GP or A&E if you believe you may have the CV-19.

If your condition gets worse, your symptoms do not improve within 7 days or you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, please use the NHS 111 online service.

There are no current medicines or vaccines for the Coronavirus. As this is a virus and not a bacterial infection, antibiotics will not help. Please stay in isolation until you have recovered.

What support is available for British citizens stranded overseas?

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued an advisory notice asking British people to return to the UK now or as soon as possible if you are abroad. Travel advice published by the Government can be found here.

If you are abroad, you should:

  1. contact your airline or travel company now
  2. keep up-to-date with travel advice pages. FCO are updating information on returning from the country you’re in as quickly as they can
  3. for real-time updates, follow the relevant embassy or high commission’s social media for the country you’re in

Where commercial routes do not exist, the government is to charter special charter flights to fly to priority countries to bring back UK citizens. When special return flights become available, these will be advertised by the embassy and British nationals on travel advice pages and embassy social media and those who have registered for updates will be contacted via email.

I understand the logistical nightmare this situation throws up for the Government and the Foreign and Commonwealth staff, who are based in countries across the world, but more, not less, information is essential in times like these. I’ve written to Secretary of State Dominic Raab asking for an urgent response about the Government’s plans to repatriate UK citizens. You can read my letter in full here.

If you or family members are stranded abroad and need assistance, please contact my office by email abrahamsd@parliament.uk

Where are safe places to get information about the Covid-19?

Spreading misinformation won’t help us protect against the Coronavirus, but unfortunately, it is very easily done.

These are the best places to get safe and reliable information about the Coronavirus. If you see information online that looks sensational or incorrect, please report it (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

I sympathise profoundly with the families of those who have lost loved ones, as well as all other individuals who have tested positive for Coronavirus. I would also like to pay tribute to all our public servants, including in the NHS, social care and more widely. The next few weeks are going to be difficult but by working together, supporting each other, we can come through this.

Advice for faith groups:

The Government’s advice to avoid large gatherings extends to faith groups.

The Church of England and the Muslim Council of Britain have called for the suspension of all congregational activities until further notice.

If you have just returned from abroad:

NHS advice is now to stay at home for 14 days if you have a persistent and new cough, or a temperature over 37c. Please do this, even if you have not been abroad in the last 2 weeks.

Useful agencies:

Citizen’s Advice Bureau – Information on employment and social security can be found here, including information about statutory sick pay.

To contact my office with your query:

  • in the first instance, please email abrahamsd@parliament.uk including details about your case
  • to call on Mon & Tues between 9am to 1pm: 07494553005
  • to call on Weds & Fri between 9am to 1pm: 07495995509

Please note, until further notice, my fortnightly MP advice surgeries will be carried out over the phone.

Who is at risk of Covid-19 infection?

Covid-19 (CV-19) is a new coronavirus which affects the lungs and airways. As such it affects our breathing.

Those at risk from this virus are older people, particularly those over 70 years old, and people with existing conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, and compromised immune systems. You can find a detailed list here.

Evidence from other parts of the world suggests that these groups are most at risk of more severe disease symptoms from CV-19 infection which may need hospitalisation.

Should I keep going to work or sending my children to school?

Nurseries, schools, colleges and Universities closed on Friday 20th March until further notice. Schools are being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

If you are a parent whose job has been defined as critical to the COVID-19 response or you work in one of the critical sectors listed here, then your children will be prioritised for education provision or child care.

Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.

There are special arrangements for Children on Free School Meals or with a social worker.

The Government is advising all those that can work-from-home to do so. It is best to check with your business or employer for advice on this.

I am receiving large numbers of queries from constituents being asked to go to work in non-essential occupations such as distribution warehouses, many of which supply sports equipment, fashion and other non-essential products. I have asked the Business Secretary to take immediate action to lockdown these non-essential workplaces. You can read my letter in full here. I am also raising my concerns with employers and trade unions to ensure appropriate actions are taken to keep employees of essential occupations safe.

For details on my office’s working arrangements, please click here.

What financial support is available to my family and me?

On 17th March, the Government announced some financial security measures for individuals eligible for Statutory Sick Pay who have either contracted the virus and become ill or have been forced to self-isolate. Families can also make use of a three-month mortgage payment holiday for homeowners in financial difficulty due to Covid-19 which can also apply to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties. For families, facing difficulty paying back personal loans or credit card bills, you can discuss this with you lender who can arrange a payment holiday, but record this in such a way that it will not impact on your credit score. Details of all of the above can be found here.

Oldham Council has offered Special payment plans for council tax which can be agreed on request as well as a Exceptional Hardship Payments scheme. Details can be found here.

The Chancellor subsequently announced a wider package of measures for employees in work including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the details of which are outlined here. There are still significant gaps for micro and small businesses, self-employed people and freelancers and for those dependent on social security.  I have pressed the Chancellor to provide more support for these groups and will continue to push for this.  You can read my letter here.

What financial support is available for my business?

The Government has also announced financial support for businesses. I have argued for the loans to be converted to grants, for greater support for those sectors who have been particularly affected by social distancing measures, for example, the retail, hospitality, leisure and creative industries, and for speedy and practical delivery systems. My letter to the Chancellor can be found here.

Should I continue to use public transport, attend mass gatherings or visit crowded areas?

The UK remains in lockdown. This means that you should stay at home as much as possible. Outside of a few exceptions, you should only leave your house to buy food/supplies/medicines, go to work if you absolutely cannot work from home, care for a vulnerable person, for unlimited daily exercise or to meet a member of a different household outdoors whilst observing the 2 metre rule.

Please avoid public transport where you cannot maintain 2 meters between passengers. Try to make alternative arrangements. Public transport services are also being impacted so please keep checking updates for services around Greater Manchester here.

How can I help?

We all need to pull together and think of each other. Volunteers are needed now more than ever to help community projects like foodbanks who are desperately needing staff. I have written to the Home Secretary to ask that in this unprecedented time, fees for DBS checks are waived.

If you can do support those volunteering programmes through recognised organisations like Action Together.

To find out more and look at available opportunities please go to the Action Together website:

Another way we can help is to donate at extra item to Oldham Foodbank when doing your weekly shop.

You can find out what items are most needed and where you can drop off goods on the Oldham Foodbank website:

How can I stay well living with Dementia during the pandemic?

The IDEAL project have produced a useful leaflet with five key messages about how people living with dementia can stay well during the coronavirus outbreak. This information will also be useful for family members and others supporting a person with dementia. This leaflet can be read in detail here.

This includes five tips which are listed below:

  • Stay safe and well
  • Stay connected
  • Keep a sense of purpose
  • Stay active
  • Stay positive

Having reliable sources of information is essential. If you want to speak to someone you can call:

  • Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Connect support line 0333 150 3456
  • The Silver Line 0800 4 70 80 90

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