High Consequence Infectious Disease Policy
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This policy was adopted by the Council at its meeting on 25th March 2020, Minute Ref. 20/33. For review annually.
|West Bergholt Parish Council actively seeks to protect the Councillors, Volunteers and Staff working for and on behalf of the council and its activities. As such and following any current Public Health England (PHE) and government guidelines, the following policy applies to any High Consequence Infectious Disease (HCID) as defined by PHE.
|This policy sets out the general principles and approach that the Parish Council will follow in respect of a HCID outbreak in the United Kingdom with an imminent threat of infection in the Parish of West Bergholt.
Scope of the policy
The main areas of concern for West Bergholt Parish Council with respect to HCIDs are:
Activation of the policy
This policy is considered to be activated, when:
Deactivation of the policy
This policy is considered to be deactivated, when:
Definition of High Consequence Infectious Disease
A HCID is defined as:
Please see Appendix 1 attached. At any such time as a new disease is classified as a HCID, it shall be treated as if it were in the list and this policy shall apply.
Matters relating to staff
|West Bergholt Parish Council has no official offices, as such the employees, the Clerk & Assistant, both work from home. The public may only visit the Clerk by appointment. During any active outbreak of a HCID in the UK, no appointments will be permitted. The Clerk and the Assistant will not come into contact with the public during working hours, at their 1st normal place of work.
|The Orpen Memorial Hall, for which the Parish Council is sole trustee, has an office for use by the Hall Administrator. The public may only visit the Hall Administrator by appointment. During any active outbreak of a HCID in the UK, no appointments with be permitted and all bookings/communications will be made via electronic or other non-direct contact. The Hall Administrator will not come into contact with the public during working hours, at their 1st normal place of work.
|The Environment garage, in the car park of the Orpen Memorial Hall, is used as a base for the Parish Council’s Handymen. During any active outbreak of a HCID in the UK, contact will be minimised as much as possible between staff members and the public, there will be no face-to-face meetings to review the job schedule and all communications will take place via electronic or other non-direct contact means to ensure staff do not come into contact with others.
|The village hall, or any other public location used for Parish Council meetings is the 2nd normal place of work for the Clerk, Assistant and Hall Administrator. This is dealt with in Section 7.
|In the event of a HCID outbreak the National Joint Council for local government services (NJC) will issue guidance for employers which the council will follow. A summary of the most recent guidance during the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020 is detailed below:
|Employees who are sick or unfit for work need to focus on their recovery.
|As per Part 2 Para 10.9 of the ‘Green Book’, if an employee is fit for work but decides, or is instructed, to self-isolate, their absence should not be recorded as sickness absence. We would expect all options for home or remote working to be explored with the employee. As they are ‘well’ at this stage they should stay on normal full pay for the duration of the self-isolation period until such time as they are confirmed to have contracted any such HCID, at which point they transfer to sickness absence leave and the usual provisions of the sickness scheme will apply.
|In circumstances where an employee decides to self-isolate without instruction from the authorities it is not unreasonable for the employer to ask for some evidence such as an email from a doctor or medical professional. However, it will probably not be possible in all cases for an employee to produce any evidence, so employers will need to use their discretion when trying to establish the facts behind the employee’s decision to self-isolate.
|If an employee is caring for someone who has or may have coronavirus, this period of absence should also be regarded as self-isolation. Given the employee may then have been in direct contact with the virus we would expect only working from home arrangements to be then considered for the duration of the incubation period. Employers should keep in touch to support employees.
|Following any school closures, employers should be fully supportive of employees with childcare responsibilities and consider flexible working arrangements, including adapting working patterns to care for children or dependants or taking time off, whether this is special leave, annual leave or flexible working.
|It is a requirement of the Local Government Act 1972, that council business shall be conducted at public meetings of the council and any committees.
|Councillors and other Volunteers can choose to not attend public meetings. As an officer of the council, the Clerk cannot choose to not attend meetings.
|Due to the nature of local government and considering the Councillors and Members of Public who attend meetings, there is high percentage of attendees who would be considered “high risk” with respect to all of the HCIDs listed in Appendix 1. As such, to protect the health of all attendees, public meetings are suspended during the active period of this policy.
|To allow the council to operate on a minimum requirement basis, the following items are delegated to the Clerk for the duration of the activation of this policy.
|Planning applications, after consultation with a minimum of 4 councillors, a summary response will be circulated to all councillors for comment prior to submission to Colchester City Council by the Clerk.
|all standard recurring payments listed as line items on the budget will be paid by the Clerk and designated authoriser at the appropriate time to prevent any late charges, such as salaries, printing costs, dog waste, licences and IT services etc.
|non-recurring payments, such as one-off costs relating to a community building project or expenses, to be authorised by a minimum of 2 councillors by e-mail prior to payment.
|All payments will be formally authorised by the full council at the next full council meeting.
|Where this policy is activated over the end of the financial year, the Clerk/RFO will prepare the end of year accounts in accordance with normal procedures and circulate to all councillors. On the acceptance of a minimum of 4 councillors, they will be signed by the RFO, Clerk and Chairman as applicable for submission to the external and internal auditors. The accounts will be accepted by resolution at the next full council meeting.
|Responses to other communications. The Clerk will circulate at the earliest opportunity, any communication from 3rd Parties which would normally be presented at a meeting for consideration by the council. The Clerk will circulate the summary response to the full council prior to responding to the 3rd Party.
|In accordance with LGA 1972, where this policy is activated during a meeting of the council the meeting will be adjourned. Using the delegated authority as detailed in 8.1.1 to 8.1.3, the Clerk will endeavour to close out as much of the remaining agenda, the results of which will be reported to the council after the adjournment when the rest of the agenda is considered.
Review of the policy
|This policy was approved by the Parish Council via email on 24th March 2020 due to the current restrictions on gatherings of more than two and will be formally approved at its next meeting and will be reviewed annually. It was last updated in Sept 2023 to include the role of Clerk’s Assistant and the current status of COVID-19.
Current List of HCID as defined by www.gov.uk on 11th March 2020
|Argentine haemorrhagic fever (Junin virus)
|Andes virus infection (hantavirus)
|Bolivian haemorrhagic fever (Machupo virus)
|Avian influenza A H7N9 and H5N1
|Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF)
|Avian influenza A H5N6 and H7N7
|Ebola virus disease (EVD)
|Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
|Mpox (monkeypox) (Clade 1 only)
|Lujo virus disease
|Nipah virus infection
|Marburg virus disease (MVD)
|Pneumonic plague (Yersinia pestis)
|Severe fever with thrombocytopaenia syndrome (SFTS)
|Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)*
N.B. Status of COVID-19
As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be an HCID in the UK. There are many diseases which can cause serious illness which are not classified as HCIDs.
The 4 nations public health HCID group made an interim recommendation in January 2020 to classify COVID-19 as an HCID. This was based on consideration of the UK HCID criteria about the virus and the disease with information available during the early stages of the outbreak. Now that more is known about COVID-19, the public health bodies in the UK have reviewed the most up to date information about COVID-19 against the UK HCID criteria. They have determined that several features have now changed; in particular, more information is available about mortality rates (low overall), and there is now greater clinical awareness and a specific and sensitive laboratory test, the availability of which continues to increase.
The ACDP is also of the opinion that COVID-19 should no longer be classified as an HCID.
The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to consider COVID-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), therefore the need to have a national, coordinated response remains and this is being met by the government’s COVID-19 response.
Cases of COVID-19 are no longer managed by HCID treatment centres only. Healthcare workers managing possible and confirmed cases should follow the National infection prevention and control manual for England (or the equivalent devolved administration infection prevention and control manuals), which includes instructions about different personal protective equipment (PPE) ensembles that are appropriate for different clinical scenarios.