Employers and staff in St Helens Borough are being asked to make sure they test for Covid-19 before returning to the workplace from summer breaks and continue testing in the weeks ahead.
Changes to the isolation rules from August 16th now allows for fully vaccinated employees to keep going into work even if another employee tests positive for Coronavirus.
However, staff are being urged to take extra precautions, especially in the next few weeks as there is the potential for a surge in cases following the summer break. Employers are also being asked to make sure that work environments are kept safe for all staff.
Regular Covid-19 testing helps to identify cases quickly and can be vital in preventing the spread of the virus within the workplace.
The latest Coronavirus figures in St Helens Borough for the week ending August 27th continue to show high infection rates in the borough, with the latest rate at 330 per 100,000, with 597 new cases confirmed. Of these new cases, 25% were in people aged 30-44, with 19% in those aged 18-29 and 18% in people aged 45-59.
If you are returning to work during the next few days you should look to do the following:
- Do a symptom free lateral flow Covid-19 test before returning to the workplace and continue to test twice weekly at home ideally.
- NHS Test and Trace will contact you if have been identified as a contact of someone in the workplace and check whether you are legally required to self-isolate.
- If you are not legally required to self-isolate, you will be provided with advice on testing and given guidance on preventing the spread of Covid-19. Even if you do not have symptoms, you will be advised to get a PCR test as soon as possible.
- Some workplaces are also doing daily lateral flow testing of contacts. If you test positive yourself you should not go into work and book a PCR test to confirm the initial test result. If positive you should then isolate at home for 10 days.
- When in the workplace you should look to maintain social distancing where possible, particularly around vulnerable or at risk colleagues. Consider wearing a face mask in communal areas or where social distancing is not possible.
All employers should look to do the following:
- Complete a full risk assessment of the workplace.
- Ensure that there is good ventilation in the working environment for staff and make sure that work surfaces and work stations are sanitised and cleaned regularly.
- Limit the number of face to face meetings between staff where possible.
- Create adequate spacing in the workplace between colleagues, particularly those who may be vulnerable or at risk.
- Instruct any staff member who shows any symptoms of Covid-19 to leave the workplace, isolate immediately and book a PCR test.
Councillor Anthony Burns, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage said: “Although the changes to isolation rules have now improved the opportunities for people who have been fully vaccinated to continue working even if another colleague may test positive, it is still vitally important for you do a PCR test in these circumstances.
“Even if you are fully vaccinated it is still possible to contract the virus and pass it on to others, often without you yourself showing any symptoms of the illness. We want to prevent outbreaks and disruption to the work place as without testing, people may not know they have the virus and inadvertently spread it to others resulting in an outbreak.
“We have had workplaces having to close previously because of the number of people testing positive and we want to prevent this.
“Therefore we would urge anyone returning to work during the next few days to test first and then take appropriate action if any work colleagues or a close contact tests positive.”
Ruth du Plessis, Director of Public Health at St Helens Council, said: “The next few weeks will be a potentially high risk period as many people return to the workplace in the borough either for the first time since lockdown or after their summer holidays.
“Although we welcome the opportunity the new isolation rules give local businesses to keep running without disruption it is important that both staff and employers continue to stay safe and protect themselves and their colleagues.
“While being double vaccinated reduces the risk of you personally becoming seriously ill from the virus, it is still very possible for you to both contract the virus and pass it onto others. So if you are in contact with anyone who tests positive, either in the workplace or at home, please take a PCR test to protect yourselves and others.”
Lateral flow testing kits are available to use for free. You can order a pack of lateral flow tests at https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
You should also register your results so we know who has been tested and where rates are at the highest and lowest. You can register your results via the following link: https://bit.ly/3k15CdW
If you test positive you should book a PCR test as soon as possible to confirm the result. Free PCR testing is available at a number of local test sites. For further details on the sites nearest to you visit www.sthelens.gov.uk/letsgettested