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Coronavirus and the impact to business
Nineteen patients in England have tested positive for Coronavirus as of 28/2/2019 and this is rising by the day. The Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, has shared a statement stating that if more cases are confirmed in the UK it will be announced as soon as possible, and that swift actions are being taken to plan for emergency containment.
Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK’s Chief Medical Officers have now raised the risk category to the public from low to moderate. This permits the government to allocate resources and plan for all eventualities, but they continue to advise that the risk to individuals remains low at this current time.
Additionally, per the scientific advice of SAGE, the UK’s Chief Medical Officers are also advising anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and are experiencing a mild cough, fever or shortness of breath, to stay indoors and call NHS 111. These specific areas have been identified due to the volume of air travel from affected areas, the understanding of other travel routes and the number of reported cases. Advice for travellers from Wuhan and Hubei Province remains unchanged in respect of self-isolation, but the aforementioned list is being kept under review.
Below are some common cover queries, which we have answered already, but please do check your individual policy wordings or call us for clarity, as some do vary; these are general expectations and the situation is evolving rapidly and may change this at any time:
Group Travel Insurance Policy Holders
Generally insurers are saying that cover will pick up travel costs if they have to cancel – This is in relation to areas where the government has advised against all travel only. If a member of staff were to contract the virus – the majority of our business travel policies have medical expenses to an unlimited amount.
Employers Liability & Public Liability Insurance
The liability sections of most package policies will pick up cover for illness sustained as a result of a virus and the liability would fall with whoever caused the outbreak. However, negligence would have to be proven as per all liability policies.
Business Interruption Insurance
Leisure and public facing businesses are likely to be the most affected and in a general policy wording losses due to reduced attendance and virus transmission are not usually covered. Some policies have a specified disease extension on them, but Coronavirus isn’t currently one of those, so obtaining cover now is likely to be impossible.
Aviva have provided the following advice in respect of Personal and office hygiene:
- Clean your desk and desk furniture regularly using antibacterial sanitising wipes.
- Keeping desks clear will facilitate regular additional deep cleaning
- Maintain and promote good hygiene by regularly washing your hands and using hand sanitisers
- Utilise protective equipment where necessary, gloves, face masks and air conditioning systems may be suitable for public facing staff at risk.
- Cover your mouth and nose every time you cough or sneeze and remind others to do so.
- If you or your staff suspect you have cold or flu symptoms, isolate and deep clean potentially transmitting surfaces and equipment, send staff home and monitor their condition.
- Notify the authorities if the virus is positively identified and exposure to other staff is likely.
In light of the above, businesses need to take a common-sense approach with regards to hygiene and should follow the government’s advice i.e. send staff home for self-isolation and not send them to any of the regions affected, unless absolutely necessary. All precautions should be taken to prevent infection and spread and it is imperative to note that travelling against government specific advice is likely to be excluded under most policies.
If you would like to speak one of our specialists to discuss your insurance arrangements call 01732 252 898.
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