Update on coronavirus outbreak (Friday 13 March)


The coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) is changing rapidly, with more cases being confirmed across the UK, including London, daily.



The country has moved to a delay phase that is aimed at protecting those most vulnerable while delaying pandemic peak to summer months.

This includes concentrating testing for COVID-19 only in those people who develop severe symptoms and/or have underlying conditions. This would be relevant mostly for people in hospitals. For all others, it will be self-diagnoses and self-isolation for seven days, irrelevant of travel history. You can find symptom checker here:

General contract tracing will cease, and actions will concentrate on specific settings such as care homes or groups of people such as those with underlying conditions and healthcare workers. Barnet Council is scaling up our preparedness to be able to support local communities and ensure our business continuity plans are well equipped to continue delivery of most essential services while dealing with this challenge.

In 80 per cent of our population, coronovirus (COVID-19) causes a relatively mild illness. It is therefore important that we all play a role in looking after our most vulnerable and elderly family members, neighbours, colleagues and residents to ensure they are doing OK.

What can I do to reduce my risk of catching coronavirus?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Public Health England (PHE) recommends that the following general cold and flu precautions are taken to help prevent people from catching and spreading COVID-19:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. See Catch it, Bin it, Kill it.
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel* if soap and water are not available. See hand washing guidance.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

*Hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol is effective to kill both bacteria and some viruses of which COVID-19 is one. Media has reported recently that hand sanitiser do not work for viruses. That is not correct. They are most effective for bacteria (99.5%) and they stop viruses being infectious. We are providing hand sanitisers across our premises to enhance hygienic measures – however, handwashing remains the most effective way of stopping spreads.

Do not go directly to your GP or any other healthcare environment if you are concerned that you may have coronavirus (COVID-19). Instead, self-diagnose using the NHS's symptom checker and, if you have tested positive for COVID-19, self-isolate for seven days.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home. Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you're staying at home. The NHS has issued advice about staying at home.

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
your condition gets worse
your symptoms do not get better after 7 days
>>>>>> Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

Face masks for the general public are not recommended to protect from infection, as there is no evidence of benefit from their use outside healthcare environments.

Symptoms and who is most susceptible 

As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus infection include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Generally, coronavirus infection is mild but 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. Most deaths in this outbreak have been in people with those characteristics.

Background information

The Government has recently published its coronavirus action plan. The action plan aims to ensure that the UK is prepared for the worst possible case scenario, and that all available resources are utilised to protect the people and manage the impact on the NHS.

The council and the government are doing their best to ensure that people who need to self-isolate will not suffer financial loss, whenever possible.

It is important that all mechanisms are in place, even if they may not be needed. We are still focused on preventing spreading the infections and delaying the peak of the outbreak as far into spring/summer as possible.

We would like to reassure you that, at the Barnet Council, we share all relevant information with the public. We are working closely with schools, social care, communities and other stakeholders to ensure that we provide the best possible support for PHE and NHS in the event of the community outbreak reaching Barnet..

Accurate and up-to-date information about coronavirus and the disease it causes, called COVID-19, is available from the following sources:

General queries about coronavirus can be emailed to

All proceedings on managing coronavirus, from initial detection and investigation of possible cases, infection prevention and control, to clinical diagnostics and treatment, are led globally by the World Health Organization (WHO), and in the UK by the NHS and PHE. There are robust protocols in place to isolate and manage cases of imported infections. Healthcare professionals have received advice and instructions, so they are well prepared to assist anyone who is suspected of having coronavirus.