9 March 2020
Our Ref: E1/20
To: All Branches
Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update – First Royal Mail Group Employee/CWU Member, Positive Test, Corona Virus Victim:
This LTB is being issued to confirm the basic facts of the first case of a Royal Mail employee and CWU Mmember becoming unwell at work and subsequently testing positive for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) infection and to deal with the unhelpful misinformation and rumour appearing on social media.
As of yesterday evening the UK national number of confirmed Coronavirus cases was confirmed by the Government as 273 and is expected to continue to climb.
The facts of the case involving a Royal Mail employee and CWU member involve a Postman/OPG employed at the Manchester South West Delivery Office, who recently returned from holiday in Italy, without any immediate symptoms but on returning to work became ill after a single day back at work and after showing the symptoms of the virus contacted NHS 111 and was tested which resulted in a positive result after which he went off work and into self-quarantine and is following medical advice and treatment.
The CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department was immediately informed by the Business and we have been in consultation with Royal Mail HQ and working with the local CWU Area Health and Safety Rep and CWU Divisional IR Rep.
Prior to this case occurring, RMP&FS had been in discussions with the CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department with regard to their plans to set up arrangements for initiating ‘deep cleans’ of Royal Mail premises by specialist cleaning teams, using a powerful multi-purpose virucidal/bactericidal cleaner and sanitiser – should it be required. This has been carried out at Manchester SWDO.
It is also worth adding that scientific experts conclude that this virus does not survive long outside of a host person or animal and estimate that it can survive on hard and soft surfaces no more than a few hours to a day at most approximately.
Royal Mail Group’s Head of Health has been working in conjunction with and under the advice of Public Health England who have confirmed their satisfaction that the Delivery Office building poses no risk of infection to the workforce and that it can operate normally.
Transmission of the virus is airborne which means it’s spread in a similar way to colds and flu to other persons, normally via close personal contact with infected individuals through coughing and sneezing small fine droplets which are breathed in by others and they can become infected.
At the request of the CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department, it has been agreed that a professional medically qualified clinician will brief the Manchester SWDO workforce to provide the necessary assurances and to answer any questions.
See attached Joint Statement which in summary firstly commits Royal Mail Group to joint working with the CWU in line with the advice and guidance of the WHO, UK CMO, Department of Health, PHE and NHS in order to plan ahead to take appropriate action. It covers agreed arrangements for deep cleaning and disinfecting of offices where necessary as per PHE guidelines. It covers Royal Mail and CWU joint support for promoting regular handwashing and the use of gloves and alcohol disinfectant wipes for shared equipment and the joint promotion of good respiratory hygiene in the workplace. Importantly it commits Royal Mail Group to adopt a supportive approach to self-isolation in relation to, pay, absence policy and fit note provision.
This is the first case in Royal Mail Group and being one of the UK’s largest employers, we have to expect that it may not be the last. We are satisfied that the Royal Mail Group Head of Health and the Director of Safety, Health, Wellbeing and Sustainability and their teams are doing everything possible to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of the members involved, working with Public Health England and working closely in consultation with the Union and both sides are committed to continue working in liaison during the current virus outbreak.
Finally, All ASRs and Branch Reps are asked to remain vigilant in encouraging members to maintain good hygiene standards at all times, thoroughly washing hands regularly and using alcohol-based wipes to clean shared equipment such as PDAs, scanners and keyboards. Members should also be encouraged to act responsibly, follow Government travel advice and restrict contact with anyone who may have travelled to high-risk areas and countries and who have an obvious fever or cough. Anyone exhibiting any flu-like symptoms and feeling unwell should be advised to limit the spread of infection and call NHS 111 without delay.
Further reports will follow in due course.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer