What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a common type of virus. They typically cause fever and a cough, which may progress to more severe pneumonia, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties in some people, according to Public Health England (PHE).
Novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild and most of those who have died have had pre-existing health conditions.
Because little is known about this new strain of the virus, it is not clear how it is spread, however, similar viruses tend to be spread by coughs and sneezes – so the way the infection gains entry to the body is the same as the way it exits and spreads to others.
It is also possible that the virus may be spread by touching a surface or object that has been coughed or sneezed on by someone with the virus – such as by touching a doorknob or shaking hands with someone and then touching your face.
There is currently no specific cure for the new coronavirus so treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
The NHS advises that symptoms of the coronavirus usually include:
- feeling tired
- difficulty breathing
- a high temperature
- a persistent cough
- a loss or changed sense of smell or taste (also called anosmia)
Government updates Action for Early Years guidance
The Department for Education has updated the Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak guidance in light of the discovery of a new variant of Covid-19, known as the Omicron variant.
The main changes are:
Self-isolation rules: The updated Actions guidance states that: “All individuals who have been identified as a close contact of a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, irrespective of vaccination status and age, will be contacted directly and required to self-isolate immediately and will be asked to book a PCR test.” It adds that these close contacts “will be informed by the local health protection team or NHS Test and Trace if they fall into this category”.
The self-isolation rules for all other close contacts (i.e. of Covid cases that have not been identified as the Omicron variant) remain unchanged.
Face coverings: The government is now recommending that “face coverings should be worn when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas” as a “temporary measure”. This recommendation applies to “staff and visitors, including children aged 11 or above on 31 August 2021”. Face covering do not need to be worn outdoors.
There is also new guidance on:
- Circumstances where people may not be able to wear face coverings
- Access to face coverings (including the recommendation to have a small contingency supply)
- The safe wearing and removal of face coverings
International travel: The updated guidance states that: “All travellers arriving into the UK should isolate and get a PCR test by ‘day two’ after arrival – this will be legally required from 30 November.” It adds that travellers “may end their isolation once they receive a negative result. If the result is positive, they should continue to isolate and follow rules on isolation following a positive test”.
Baby and toddler groups
Guidance for baby and toddler groups has remained unchanged. Groups can operate as normal and without restrictions on attendance, though Actions for Early Years states that they should follow the control measures detailed in the guidance.
For all the latest updates on Covid-19 guidance changes, visit the Alliance’s Operating during Lockdown and Beyond FAQs page.
The DfE’s Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak guidance is available here.