News article

Coronavirus: advice for businesses

13 February 2020


Coronavirus outbreak information for businesses in Northern Ireland 

An infection causing respiratory symptoms has recently emerged in Wuhan, China. Known as COVID-19 (coronavirus), it can cause respiratory symptoms ranging from very mild to very severe. 

About the virus

Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

The Department of Health and Social Care is publishing daily figures for the UK. Test results from Northern Ireland are included in the UK figure. There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Northern Ireland.

Travel advice

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is currently advising against all travel to Hubei Province, and all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China. If you’re in China and able to leave, you should do so. See the latest travel advice for China.

The UK Chief medical officers are advising anyone who has travelled from certain areas in the last 14 days to remain indoors if they are experiencing a fever and a cough as well as shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. These areas are:

  • mainland China
  • Thailand
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Macau

A helpline has been established for anyone in Northern Ireland who has travelled to these areas in the past 14 days. The 24-hour helpline number is 0300 200 7885.

Preventing infection

To help reduce any potential spread of coronavirus, the Public Health Agency is urging people to follow the steps that they recommend for similar illnesses such as cold and flu.

Following good hygiene practices in your business can help prevent the spread of infection.

Encourage employees to:

  • always carry tissues and use them to catch coughs or sneezes
  • cover the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • bin the tissues and wash their hands afterwards
  • wash their hands often with soap and water
  • use sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

See welfare facilities at work for information on the handwashing facilities you must provide. 

Download Public Health Agency advice on the coronavirus (PDF, 1,175KB).

Infections at work

Find guidance on diseases, infections and allergies in the workplace. This includes managing risks and handling an outbreak. 

If there is an outbreak of infection or disease in your workplace, legally you must report this to the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland. See RIDDOR: Reporting an incident.