Coronavirus / Covid-19 – Client Update
Following on from our client update which was sent out on the 12th of March please see below an additional update following further developments and interventions from the Government aimed at tackling the Coronavirus / COVID-19 Pandemic.
As with our previous update we continue to have real concerns related to the spread of Coronavirus / COVID-19 and the potential implication for the continuity of service should infection levels increase significantly within the coming weeks and months and therefore below outlines what further steps we are taking in order to restrict our staff from the spread of the virus.
Sci-Tech Sample Specific Guidance
It is good practise that all samples are sent on the day that they are sampled. In the current circumstances we are stressing that this is critical and we cannot guarantee that samples will be tested in stability time if this does not occur. We also strongly recommend sending samples using special delivery as a minimum. If samples are tested outside of stability then they will not be accredited, nor suitable for regulatory requirements such as the National Control Plan.
Some microbiology samples have a stability time of 24 hours, and although we currently operate a small team to test samples on Saturdays, we won’t be able to guarantee this due to the staffing issues we will likely face. As such, we are also requesting that samples such as this are sampled and sent to us Monday to Thursday so they will be able to be tested within stability.
As indicated in our update of the 12th of March we have adopted a three-stage approach to our planning which can be summarised as Prevention, Restriction, and Continuity. Although we are obviously still working to prevent any staff being exposed to the virus, we are now into the Restriction and Continuity stage of our plan.
In order to reduce the spread of the virus within our business we have provided our staff with information to allow them to spot the early signs of infection by Coronavirus / COVID-19 and if any staff member believe they are showing symptoms of the disease they notify their line manager and are asked to stay at home and self-isolate for 7 days keeping in touch with their manager to update them of their situation.
In addition to this and in accordance with the advice from Government, all staff who live with an individual(s) who are showing symptoms of the disease will notify their line manager and will be asked to stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days keeping in touch with their manager to update them of their situation.
All staff who have the ability to work from home where that remote working will not affect the continuity of the business are now doing so.
All deliveries to site are carried out in such a way to avoid or minimise any contact with personnel from the companies that supply us.
We are also minimising staff movement as much as possible between the labs, offices and communal spaces at each of the laboratory divisions in an effort to reduce or eradicate direct contact between staff.
While we are not experiencing any significant problems so far, we are in the process of further developing continuity plans for our laboratories in the event that we have significant levels of staff absent from work either though illness, the need to self-isolate or to look after children following the announcement of the closure of schools from the 20th of March.
We are undertaking daily risk assessments for all of our technical laboratories and are developing plans for these most at risk of continuity problems should widespread Coronavirus / COVID-19 infections occur. These plans include increased shift working, a 7-day working week where required and inter-departmental and inter-laboratory working.
We are also offering complete flexibility to staff in their working hours and we have the ability, if required, to allow work to be carried out 24/7.
In addition we are working with our key suppliers to ensure that they are also developing continuity plans for this eventuality and currently we have been reassured of their ability to continue with the necessary supplies.
However, as I hope you can all appreciate, considering the extent of the interventions the Government are putting into place or asking the population to undertake, it is likely there will be an inevitable disruption to the services we provide in the coming weeks and months.
It is likely that turnaround times will be affected within our divisions and indeed within those companies we utilise to provide us with third party analyses or services. Let me assure you that we will endeavour to ensure all samples are analysed within the turnaround time you expect but if extreme circumstances force us into a backlog situation, priority will be given to samples which are taken for regulatory purposes or which are perishable or have a short stability time.
I would like to ask for your understanding in what is an unprecedented challenge for all businesses and may I take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support.
As mentioned in the previous update the situation is continuing to develop and consequently we will keep our plans under constant review. We will post further updates should our plans change in the future.
We hope that this provides you with some reassurance that Cawood Scientific is taking the necessary steps to ensure a continuity of service but if you require any further information please contact us in the usual manner.
Group Managing Director Cawood Scientific Ltd