What is the COVID-19 virus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses common across the world in animals and humans; certain types cause illnesses in people. For example, some coronaviruses cause the common cold; others cause diseases that are much more severe such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), both of which often lead to pneumonia. COVID-19 is the illness seen in people infected with a new strain of coronavirus not previously seen in humans.
On 31st December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) of an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan City, which was later classified as a new disease: COVID-19. Based on current evidence, the main symptoms of COVID-19 are a cough, a high temperature and, in severe cases, shortness of breath.
As it is a new virus, the lack of immunity in the population (and the absence as yet of an effective vaccine) means that COVID-19 has the potential to spread extensively.
The current data seem to show that we are all susceptible to catching this disease. Among those who become infected, some will exhibit no symptoms. Early data suggest that of those who develop an illness, the great majority will have a mild-to-moderate, but self-limiting illness – similar to seasonal flu. It is, however, also clear that a minority of people who get COVID-19 will develop complications severe enough to require hospital care, most often pneumonia. In a small proportion of these, the illness may be severe enough to lead to death.
So far, the data we have suggest that the risk of severe disease and death increases amongst elderly people and in people with underlying health risk conditions (in the same way as for seasonal flu). Illness is less common and usually less severe in younger adults. Children can be infected and can have a severe illness, but based on current data, the overall illness seems rarer in people under 20 years of age. So far, there has been no obvious sign that pregnant women are more likely to be seriously affected.
What is the situation in the UK?
At the moment there are 1391 cases in the entire UK, of which 94 are cases located in Wales. Of those cases, there has been a total of 35 deaths in the entire UK. The UK is one of the first countries to have a laboratory test for COVID-19 disease. When a clinician suspects novel coronavirus (COVID-19), they take samples from the nose, throat and deeper respiratory samples, package and send them safely to PHE Colindale. PHE can provide a laboratory result from this specific virus on the same working day. As if 19.00 PM CET Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the UK population to avoid non-essential contact with other people. He tells UK residents to avoid pubs, restaurants, other public places, and non-essential travel. The schools will stay open for now.
What are the UK government policies?
The UK Government and the Devolved Administrations have been planning an initial response based on information available at the time, in a context of uncertainty, that can be scaled up and down in response to new information to ensure a flexible and proportionate response. Their response to COVID-19 is guided by the international situation, the advice of organizations such as the WHO, surveillance, data modeling based on the best available evidence and the recommendations of their expert bodies (Annex B). The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) provides expert medical
scientific advice. The four UK governments’ Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) continue to advise the health and social care systems across the UK, and government agencies in all parts of the UK involved in responding to this outbreak.
The overall phases of their plan to respond to COVID-19 are:
detect early cases, follow up close contacts, and prevent the disease from taking hold in this country for as long as is reasonably possible
Delay: slow the spread in this country, if it does take hold, lowering the peak impact and pushing it away from the winter season
better understand the virus and the actions that will lessen its effect on the UK population; innovate responses including diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines; use the evidence to inform the development of the most effective models of care
provide the best care possible for people who become ill, support hospitals to maintain essential services and ensure ongoing support for people ill in the community to minimize the overall impact of the disease on society, public services, and the economy.
UK Actions against COVID-19 to date
Across the whole of the UK, public health agencies and authorities, the NHS, and Health and Social Care NI (HSCNI) have established plans and procedures to detect and isolate the first cases of COVID-19 as they emerge in the UK.
Each nation’s public health agencies have worked with Border Force, port operators and carriers to enhance port health measures. PHE teams are on-site at appropriate international ports, and health advice and information has been widely cascaded, as part of their public communications plan, with appropriate arrangements also put in place in the Devolved Administrations (given that some aspects relating to the arrival of aircraft and shipping are devolved).
New regulations introduced in England under public health legislation provide new powers for medical professionals, public health professionals and the police to allow them to detain and direct individuals in quarantined areas at risk or suspected of having the virus. Boards may also apply for court orders for quarantine and medical examination.
As part of the port health measures, direct flights arriving into the UK from countries within the UK’s CMOs’ case definition are required to provide a declaration (General Aircraft Declaration) to airport authorities stating that all their passengers are well, 60 minutes prior to landing. Similarly, The Maritime Health Declaration Form is required for all vessels arriving from any foreign port.
Once a case has been detected, the UK public health agencies use tried and tested procedures for rapid tracing, monitoring, and isolation of close contacts, with the aim of preventing further spread. The UK maintains strategic stockpiles of the most important medicines and protective equipment for healthcare staff who may come into contact with patients with the virus. These stocks are being monitored daily, with additional stock being ordered where necessary.
Delaying the spread of the disease requires all of the UK to follow the advice given by the government. The benefits of doing so are that if the peak of the outbreak can be delayed until the warmer months, they can reduce significantly the risk of overlapping with seasonal flu and other challenges (societal or medical) that the colder months bring. The Delay phase also buys time for the testing of drugs and the initial development of vaccines and/or improved therapies or tests to help reduce the impact of the disease.
The UK Public Health Agencies are supporting the rapid development of specific tests for this coronavirus, in partnership with WHO and a global network of laboratories. This has been rolled out to NHS/HSCNI laboratories across the UK to enable faster confirmation of positive diagnoses. The UK Government has already pledged £20 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop new vaccines to combat the world’s deadliest diseases, including
vaccines for COVID-19, as quickly as possible, and is actively considering a further investment.
he UK is a world leader in the field of outbreak modeling and data analytics. The NIHR HPRU in Modelling Methodology led by Imperial College London has developed novel analytical and computational tools that exploit novel data streams on infectious diseases such as COVID-19. This group and other leading academic groups have developed tools to prepare for infectious disease outbreaks, which
include real-time infectious disease models, allowing policy decisions to be made using the best possible data and are actively modeling questions of relevance to dealing with the COVID–19 outbreak.
In the event of the outbreak worsening, or a severe prolonged pandemic, the response will escalate, and the focus will move from Contain to Delay, through to Mitigate. During this phase, the pressures on services and wider society may start to become significant and clearly noticeable. The decision to step up the response from Contain to Delay and then Mitigate will be taken on advice from the UK’s
Chief Medical Officers, taking in to account the degree of sustained but slowing it down would still nonetheless be beneficial. For example, health services are less busy in the summer months when flu and other winter bugs are not driving GP consultations and hospital
admissions. The UK will also keep in mind and learn from the evident failure of measures in other countries to reduce spread. Other actions
will be considered to help achieve a Delay in the spread of the disease. We will aim to minimize the social and economic impact, subject to keeping people safe. Such judgments will be informed based on the best available and most up to date scientific evidence, and take into account the tradeoffs involved.
What are Promagem LTD. policies and steps moving forward
Our first and foremost protocol is that we will allow 1-night bookings until the 15th of April 2020. Secondly, to protect our investments and that of our investors, bookings that are canceled will not get a refund, but a credit that can be used at a later period of choice, if the occupancy allows it. An exception to this new rule are bookings that originate from the following countries:
If necessary we will reduce the booking price to maintain the continuity of the bookings. This measure will remain until the 31st of May 2020. If it shows that this measure is not necessary anymore, we will gradually reverse this to the old booking price.
If necessary we will reserve a 24 hour period after each booking to thoroughly clean the house. This to prevent contamination between guests via objects. This measure has not been enforced.
Because of our large customer base which consists mainly of contractors, we believe that our occupancy will persist as usual. Our biggest asset during these times is that our properties offer isolation from other guests. Because of this, our guests can carry out their activities as safe as possible.
During these uncertain times, we aim to make our policies as clear as possible to our investors, all so our relationship will remain open and honest. Our biggest priority is safeguarding our assets and those of our investors. We also extremely value the safety of guests, and we aim to create the safest possible environment for them to stay.
We keep a close eye on the updates of the government, and we stand in close contact with officials who can tell us more at the appropriate time.
The Promagem Ltd. Team wishes you good health and urges you to look after yourself and those around you. As soon as the current situation changes, we will give you an extra update. Till that time we will conduct our updates and business as usual.
Dominique de Jong
Director of Client Relations