News Item: Government Advice on Coronavirus and Potential Risks to Events
The Deputy Chief Medical Officers (DCMO) are senior public health leaders who support the Chief Medical Officer - the most senior adviser on health and medicine to the UK government. This week, the DCMO has informed the UK event industry that despite fears regarding the coronavirus, there is no reason to shut down events.
On 2nd March, Jonathan Van-Tam, DCMO, Department of Health and Social Care, England said in a conference call with event organisers that there was "no clear rationale" for closing events in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, despite events being banned in Switzerland, Italy and France.
Van-Tam explained that, based on current predictions of virus's spread, stopping events is not necessary. He added that the primary places of infection are the workplace, schools and the home. He also noted that pubs and public transport were more likely to be a source of transmission, due to the virus having a relatively small radius of infection (two metres).
Notes taken during the conference call, on 2nd March, regarding the potential risks of Coronavirus to events are listed below:
- Coronavirus is part of a family of viruses, which range from the common cold to SARS and MERS.
- There is some evidence that it is very rare for those under 25 to get Coronavirus
- The vast majority of those catching Coronavirus will suffer no more than typical cold symptoms and will recover is about a week.
- A small proportion of people - those with underlying symptoms (diabetics etc) and elderly over 60 are at greater risk. The main risk is severe pneumonia.
- 98% of those catching Coronavirus will just get better
- It is unlikely that there will be a vaccine available for around 18 months.
- The most likely places for the virus to spread are in the home, at school or in the workplace.
- It is highly unlikely people will pick-up the virus walking in the street or shopping etc.
- Transmission is generally by close contact.
- Equally it is less likely to pick-up the virus at outdoor events than on a crowded underground or in a packed pub after a football match.
- There is currently no plan to ban any events in the UK.
- Surfaces like stainless steel, wood etc. do not appear to harbour viruses like plastic, on the other hand, does.
- Washing hands is important
- Generally, the advice is that people should continue to go about their normal lives but if they feel unwell they should stay at home.
- Government may issue specific advice for vulnerable groups but nothing is planned at the moment.
- It is unlikely that the UK Government will follow others in banning events, such as football matches, as the risk of catching the virus is low and they are keen for people to continue to live their lives normally.
Generally, the conference call outlined reassurance that businesses should continue to run normally unless things dramatically change. HAE EHA has direct access to Government advisors and will keep monitoring the situation.