Coronavirus

The latest medical advice on COVID-19 can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ - if you have coronavirus symptoms and need medical advice, please visit 111.nhs.uk 

The up to date Government guidance, including information on support for businesses and employees, travel advice and guidance on self isolation and social distancing can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus

You can also find answers to Coronavirus FAQs at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do?fbclid=IwAR3G8KI-yBN3cU5zCk6TQM00-toEoWN9_vG_xuXPJg5x-7Hh-Yi4WVB6lq8

You sign up to join the NHS Vounteer First Responder scheme at https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS

If you are unable to find the information you need using the resources above, my constituency team can be contacted on 01287 204709, but please be mindful that the current situation means that they are dealing with a significant volume of casework.

Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, has set up a business helpline available from 12 noon on 20 March - call 01642 662 777 or email support@teesvalley-ca.gov.uk

The UK is facing a serious pandemic. We should not down play this illness.

As your local MP, I am here to support our health services, individuals and businesses in any way I can who are affected by coronavirus. However, please understand that I have limited staff, and they are working flat out to help in whatever way they can. 

As the situation progresses, I will keep you updated. We will get through this. No matter how tough things feel now, Britain has got through many tough experiences before. Please remember, self-isolate if you need to, and continue to wash your hands.

COVID-19 CORONOVIRUS - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: My business is struggling due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, what support is available?

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced an extensive £350 billion + business support package on 17 March, providing extensive loans, grants and business rate relief. You can read the full speech online at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/chancellor-of-the-exchequer-rishi-sunak-on-covid19-response

Up to date Government advice for businesses can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Information on local support for businesses in Redcar & Cleveland can be found at https://redcar-cleveland.gov.uk/coronavirus-information/24-business-support-information

Information on local support for businesses in Middlesbrough can be found at https://www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/community-support-and-safety/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-business-support

 

Q: I am not entitled to SSP, what support is available whilst I am self-isolating?

Measures have been enacted to ensure that those not eligible for SSP will be able to access the benefits system. Advice for those who need to claim due to the coronavirus outbreak can be found at https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/  It is expected that further support for households affected by the outbreak will be announced in the next few days.

 

Q: How long do I need to self-isolate for if I have coronavirus symptoms? What does self-isolating entail?

If you live alone you will need to self-isolate for 7 days from the onset of symptoms. If you live with others, the whole household is required to self-isolate for 14 days to allow for the incubation period of the virus. All individuals who get symptoms need to self-isolate for 7 days from the onset of symptoms, regardless of the household period.

The latest guidance on self-isolation can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

 

Q: Due to coronavirus I am not earning enough to pay my mortgage – what support is available? What about paying my bills?

The Chancellor has announced that mortgage lenders have agreed to offer a minimum of a 3 month mortgage holiday for all those unable to keep up their mortgage payments due to the impact of coronavirus.

It has also been confirmed that there will be a complete ban on evictions for those living in rented housing, with the mortgage holiday also applying to by-to-let mortgages to ensure landlords are also supported.

The Business Secretary has agreed emergency measures with the energy industry to ensure that people have their energy supply protected during the disruption caused by COVID-19: suppliers have put measures in place that pre-payment and pay-as-you-go customers remain supplied with energy. Full details of these measures are described at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-agrees-measures-with-energy-industry-to-support-vulnerable-people-through-covid-19.

The Government has also announced a comprehensive wages support package for those workers on unpaid leave due to coronavirus, with the Government covering the cost of 80% of wages (up to £2500 a month). Details of the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme can be found at here

 

Q: I am employed full time and have decided I need to self-isolate as I have a persistent cough but my employer says I won’t be paid if I don’t come into work. What should I do?

If you are ill, you should take time off work in line with the Government guidance. If you are entitled to SSP, this will now be paid from Day 1 for individuals needing to self-isolate. You do not require a sick note for the first 7 days of sickness absence under any circumstances. The Government is providing employers with support for paying SSP and urging all employers to respect the judgement of employees who need to self-isolate on the basis of current guidance.

 

Q: I am in receipt of benefits and have Coronavirus symptoms, do I still need to attend my Jobcentre appointment?

The Department for Work and Pensions have suspended face-to-face appointments for health and disability benefits from 17th March. Jobcentre staff are able to support over the phone and online.

 

Q: I am a mother of 2 and work for the NHS. With schools closing will childcare support be available for NHS staff?

The Government is conscious of the importance of childcare for NHS staff. As such, schools will remain open for children of key workers such as NHS staff. Nurseries and private schools will also be supported to provide care for children of these workers.  

Full guidelines for schools, including a list of key worker groups, can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

 

Q: Why is there no toilet roll and hand gel in the shops? Is the Government doing enough to make sure we don’t run out of food?

The Government, supermarkets and suppliers are working together to ensure that everyone is able to get the supplies they need. There are currently no significant supply chain disruptions. Gaps on shop shelves are a result of people changing their buying patterns in response to the COVID-19 outbreak: retailers are working to replenish stocks and if everybody shops sensibly everyone will be able to get the supplies they need. Some retailers have applied restrictions to the number of units each consumer can buy to help ensure everyone is able to buy what they need.

 

Q: Why hasn’t the Government taken more drastic action to stop coronavirus spreading?

Coronavirus is likely to present a challenge to the UK over a significant period of time. Measures in place have been put in place on the basis of expert scientific advice and are designed to ensure that the situation is sustainable and everyone has access to the support and essentials they need.

 

Q: What is the Government doing to ensure that the NHS has enough beds available to treat people who are badly affected by coronavirus?

The Chancellor announced in the Budget that the NHS will have access to all of the funds required to tackle the outbreak.

Extensive plans are in place to ensure central government, local authorities, the NHS and other agencies work together effectively to tackle the outbreak. You can read about the Coronavirus action plan at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan/coronavirus-action-plan-a-guide-to-what-you-can-expect-across-the-uk

 

Q: I have coronavirus symptoms; how come I can’t get tested?

Testing for coronavirus is not necessary if you are self-isolating at home. The NHS is conducting extensive testing but the best way to limit the spread of the virus is to self-isolate if your symptoms can be managed at home. Additional guidance from the NHS on self-isolation and whether you should contact NHS 111 is available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/

Work is ongoing to increase testing capacity to 25,000 tests daily in the coming weeks, with priority initially being given to frontline healthcare staff. Scientists are also working on an anti-body test to identify whether people have had the virus already, which will help with our understanding of how the virus is spreading, as well as identifying key workers who have some immunity.

 

Q: Where can I get up to date information about the best way to stay safe from the virus?

The latest Government guidance on social distancing and protecting vulnerable people can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people

It is important to wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face if your hands are not clean.

 

Q: I am fit and healthy and not in a risk group. How can I volunteer to help support people who need to self-isolate?

You can sign up to join the recently announced NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme at https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS

You can sign up to join the British Red Cross Reserves at reserves.redcross.org.uk/. There are also a number of community groups on social media which provide a platform for volunteers to connect with local vulnerable people in need of assistance.

Middlesbrough Council have set up a portal for those seeking help, or wanting to offer help, which can be found at middlesbrough.gov.uk/helpboro for those living in Middlesbrough.

 

Q: I am over 70 but I’m fit and healthy with no underlying conditions, why do I need to restrict my activities?

People over the age of 70 are at greater risk of severe illness or complications if they are infected with coronavirus. It is therefore especially important to follow social distancing guidelines if you are in this age category. Everyone, regardless of age or health is being asked to follow social distancing guidelines.

 

Q: My husband has a cough and a fever so is self-isolating. Do my children and I need to self-isolate too?

Yes, if anyone in your household experiences coronavirus symptoms, the whole household should self-isolate for 14 days.

All individuals who get symptoms need to self-isolate for 7 days from the onset of symptoms, regardless of the household period.

The latest guidance on self-isolation can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

 

Q: I am an NHS worker and am self-isolating due to symptoms/ household isolation. Does it not make sense for healthcare workers to be tested so we know if we have any immunity to the virus?

Testing is being upscaled to 25,000 daily tests as rapidly as possible and healthcare workers will be prioritised. Work is also ongoing on an antibody test which will identify those who have already had the virus and recovered, which cannot be picked up by current testing methods.

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