Those most at risk within the UK are professionals working in health and social care sectors. This because these sectors are responsible for providing essential treatment and care for those who are confirmed to have COVID-19, are symptomatic or are highly vulnerable. They are in prolonged close contact with individuals who are symptomatic or particularly vulnerable to infection.
The UK government and devolved administrations published clear guidance on appropriate PPE for health and social care workers. This has been written and reviewed by all 4 UK public health bodies and informed by NHS infection prevention control experts. Our guidance is consistent with World Health Organization (WHO) guidance for protecting health and social care workers from COVID-19.
For other workers and sectors, based on current evidence, there is very little scientific evidence of widespread benefit from PPE. Instead, practising good hand hygiene and social distancing is key to minimising the risk of infection. We emphasise and reassure employers that for the majority the most effective way they can ensure that their employees are safe at work is to:
where possible, alter business-as-usual ways of working to ensure social distancing can take place. In some circumstances this could involve the erection of physical ‘splash barriers’ to decrease staff anxiety, or redesign of customer flows to minimise contact opportunities
ensure staff are aware and signs are visible in the workplace reminding employees and customers not to enter the premises if they have COVID-19 symptoms such as a high temperature or persistent cough (or a member of their household displays symptoms) and to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
that employees are provided with regular breaks to allow them to wash their hands for 20 seconds. Break areas and break times should also be set up to allow for social distancing to occur to minimise contact during these times