COVID – 19 FAQs

Coronavirus advice & guidance

With a growing number of Covid-19 cases, 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 last night, the United Kingdom, including Oldham East and Saddleworth, is in lockdown. This means that everyone should stay at home for the next three weeks. 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, 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. More information here.

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 are a key worker, to care for a vulnerable person and to exercise (once a day). 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

If you can, please work from home.

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.

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.

In order to protect those who are at high risk of getting seriously ill with Coronavirus, this week (from 23rd March) the NHS will be contacting 1.5 million people to ask they stay at home for at least 12 weeks. Do not contact your GP or healthcare team at this stage – wait to be contacted as you will be given specific advice about what to do.

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?

Last week, 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. These are outlined 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 is now in lockdown. This means that you should stay at home for the next three weeks. Outside of a few exceptions, you should only leave your house to buy food/supplies/medicines, go to work if you are defined as a key worker, care for a vulnerable person or for daily exercise.

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:

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