IRMS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Statement
09 March 2020
Posted by: Jessica Waite
COVID-19 is an illness that can affect breathing. It is triggered by a virus called Coronavirus, which causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe examples including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). COVID-19 is a new strain of Coronavirus, identified in China in December 2019. It has not been previously known in humans.
The Information and Records Management Society (IRMS), as a socially responsible organisation, is keen to offer a measured response, based on best practice guidance available from the UK Government, NHS and Public Health England. It is of particular relevance to its annual conference and regional / sectoral meetings.
At time of writing the IRMS has no plans to cancel or postpone these events, but has produced this statement of intent, as to how it is going to approach its management during them. It has been written to align with a similar Operating Procedure produced by the IRMS’s main events partner, Revolution Events, which arrange the annual conference.
Following a meeting of the Government’s Emergency COBRA Committee in early March 2020, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has been clear that whereas there is the possibility of significant expansion of COVID-19 in the UK, the public should currently continue with Business as Usual.
2. Symptoms and Limiting the Spread of COVID-19
The NHS website states that known symptoms of COVID-19 are a cough, high temperature, and shortness of breath (although these are not symptoms limited to COVID-19).
Because it is a new illness, it is not known exactly how it spreads, although similar viruses are known to transmit in the cough droplets of infected people. The NHS states that it is very unlikely it can be spread through things such as packages or food.
Reassuringly, the NHS advises that most people can continue to go to work, school and other public places.
However, based on advice from the UK Government website, IRMS members who have returned to the UK from the following areas are reminded to stay at home and avoid contact with other people immediately, including attendance at IRMS events:
- Hubei province in China in the last 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms.
- Iran, lockdown areas in northern Italy or special care zones in South Korea since 19 February, even if they do not have symptoms.
- Other parts of mainland China or South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan or Thailand in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath, even if the symptoms are mild.
- Other parts of northern Italy (anywhere north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini), Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or Vietnam since 19 February and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath, even if the symptoms are mild.
Full advice and guidance is available from the Online NHS 111 COVID-19 Service or by telephoning NHS 111.
If members become unwell with the symptoms above immediately leading up to or during and event they must contact NHS 111 for advice and guidance. Members who have already been advised to self-isolate by NHS 111 may not attend any IRMS events during their isolation period.
Self-isolation guidance, where necessary, will be given by NHS 111.
If an IRMS member or event attendee who is booked onto an event has to enter self-isolation within 14 days of that event taking place, they must contact the IRMS by telephoning 01625 664520 or emailing email@example.com to inform of their isolation status and cancellation from the event.
If an IRMS member or event attendee falls ill whilst at a residential event, such as (but not limited to) the annual conference, this must be communicated to the IRMS using the same contact details. Under no circumstances should this information be passed in person by the (potentially) infected person, on the basis that they should at that point have begun self-isolation, and may present a public health risk by being out in public. It is expected that the delegate’s immediate self-isolation would be within their accommodation at the event, pending their taking medical advice from NHS 111.
At the annual conference the IRMS and / or Revolution Events will support the delegate, remotely, in their liaison with their accommodation provider.
3. IRMS Events Are Not Being Cancelled
At the current time, following the Government’s advice that the UK should continue its Business as Usual status, there are no plans to cancel the annual conference or regional / sectoral events. This will, however, remain under constant review, based on current advice from the Government, NHS and Public Health England regarding any clear and present risk to public health in continuing with such events.
Nevertheless, during events we wish to fully implement current guidance from the NHS to prevent onward transmission of the illness:
- Wash hands with soap and water frequently for at least 20 seconds.
- Wash hands arriving at home and work.
- Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
- Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve, not hands, when coughing or sneezing.
- Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash hands immediately afterwards.
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
- Touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
4. Further Advice
Further information is available from:
(Note: The IRMS is not responsible for the information on these links or, due to the fast-moving nature of COVID-19 advice and guidance, the URLs remaining current.)