County council offers warning to those with flu and cold symptoms

PUBLISHED: 14:17 09 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:15 09 March 2020

Herts County Council have offered advice to community groups as coronavirus continues to spread across the county. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Herts County Council have offered advice to community groups as coronavirus continues to spread across the county. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Community groups in Hertfordshire should ask members with any symptoms of cold or flu to stay away – according to the county council’s latest coronavirus advice.

The advice is part of a range of measures on the Hertfordshire County Council website designed to give the best protection to community groups against the new virus.

But startling as it may sound, the county council says it's no different to the advice they offer every year during the flu season.

The published advice for community groups also includes the use of hand gel at entrances, good hygiene and hand-washing and regularly cleaning surfaces.

Speaking at a meeting of Hertfordshire's Health Scrutiny Committee last Wednesday (March 4), director of public health Jim McManus reassured councillors.

He said that the vast majority of coronavirus patients - around 80 per cent - could expect a 'comparatively mild illness' akin to a bad case of the flu.

He highlighted a phone conversation with one patient, who had told him that despite being in hospital he was sitting up in bed working and said there had been a lack of focus on the number of patients who had recovered.

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He said he expected there to be more cases in the county - but insisted they were "ready".

As part of their readiness to deal with cases of coronavirus, the county council has already set up a dedicated schools helpline and briefed social care providers.

Meanwhile it was also reported that the county's local resilience forum was looking at plans for a whole range of potential issues - including the supply of food - just in case they were required.

As part of the wide-ranging Q&A session at the meeting of the Health Scrutiny Committee, Mr McManus pointed to talk of drive-through testing for the virus, home-testing and 'cough-free' train carriages.

But he advised passengers to wash their hands before getting on the train, to avoid people who are ill and to avoid touching their faces - before washing hands again after getting off the train.

Cllr Chris White had specifically raised the threat the virus posed to groups of older people who "flocked" to Harpenden to play Bridge - where cards could "probably" be as 'filthy' as bank notes.

Meanwhile executive member for public health and prevention Cllr Tim Hutchings told the committee he was "confident" that Hertfordshire was on top of this.

He pointed to "some quite alarming" messages on social media, which were untrue and urged everyone to be careful what they put in social media.

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