Hertfordshire County Council staff reassured amid fears colleague has coronavirus

The colleague had been working at the council’s Apsley site, in Hemel Hempstead

Health officials have stepped-in to reassure staff at Hertfordshire County Council, amid fears a colleague may have contracted coronavirus.

Jim McManus

Jim McManus

The colleague – who has not been identified – had been working at the council’s Apsley site, in Hemel Hempstead.

And now they are said to be waiting for the results of a test to identify whether – or not – they have coronavirus.

It is not known whether that office-based member of staff had been showing any of the symptoms associated with the virus while at work.

The suspected case has been highlighted to staff in a ‘frequently asked questions’ briefing note.

It states: “There is a suspected case of coronavirus at Apsley and this individual has now been advised to self-isolate by NHS 111 – we are currently awaiting formal confirmation.

“We can reassure you that the area has been well cleaned and that those who have been in close contact with the suspected case will be advised directly by either NHS 111, Public Health

England or their line managers on what, if any, action needs to be taken next.”

Director of public health Jim McManus has already stepped-in to reassure staff there is no need to be alarmed.

In a message to county council staff, he says: “We’ve started to see the impact of coronavirus on our staff, and some of our colleagues are currently self-isolating following advice received by Public Health England or NHS 111.

“We expect this and we are prepared for positive cases among our staff.

“There’s no need to be alarmed and we trust you to remain calm and work together to meet this challenge.”

Staff at the county council’s Hemel Hempstead base have already been reassured that the area has been “well cleaned”.

Those who have been in close contact with the suspected case will be advised by NHS 111 or Public Health England.

And the county council is said to be providing guidance to all staff who have been concerned by the latest development.

The advice to staff stresses that anyone who has an underlying health issue – or has close relatives with a health issue – can talk to their line managers to consider working options, that may include working from home.

It also stresses that staff do not need to self-isolate unless they have been advised to do so by NHS 111 or Public Health England – and that staff are not being routinely advised to work from home.

Staff are also being reminded that regular hand-washing and good hygiene are the best defence against the spread of coronavirus.

Meanwhile executive member for public health and prevention Cllr Tim Hutchings has pointed to action the county council is taking for staff and for residents.

He says the council – as the lead authority for public health in Hertfordshire – has been working hard to inform and protect staff and residents.

And he says managers have been briefed to ensure the council does its “absolute best” to keep communities safe and essential services running.

He has acknowledged that, at times, staff will have to self-isolate.

And he says dedicated hotlines are already in place to provide advice and guidance to schools, to care providers and to staff working with the most vulnerable residents.

“It is a huge challenge for us and we need everyone in the county to play their part,” he said.

Meanwhile the county council has also created a dedicated web page for residents seeking information. It can be found at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/coronavirus.