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Advice from Warwickshire Public Health for religious organisations

Public Health Warwickshire issued urgent advice to all religious organisations in Warwickshire on 16 March 2020 when we moved to a more active phase in the battle to contain the virus nationally. 

A copy of that letter is below:

Dear Warwickshire Religious Organisations, 

Urgent COVID-19 action for all Warwickshire Religious Organisations 

As Director of Public Health for Warwickshire County Council, I am writing to you in light of the current global pandemic, COVID-19, which is affecting us all.  Following the Government briefing on Monday 16 March 2020, it was announced that we will move to the ‘delay’ phase of the COVID-19 action plan. I am asking you as key leaders in your community to take the lead and follow the national guidance to keep residents safe.  

We all have a role to play to keep ourselves and our most vulnerable residents as safe as far as possible within religious organisations. One of the most important things we can do is to follow guidance on social distancing when worshipping or undertaking rites of passage. Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

They are: 

  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough 
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible 
  • Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this.  
  • Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as religious buildings 
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media 
  • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services 

We strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible, particularly if you: 

  • are over 70 
  • have an underlying health condition (e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes which is more prevalent in Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic groups)  
  • are pregnant 

Examples of how you can apply social distancing:  

  • Review and alter the way in which you interact with your congregation and the wider community 
  • Use online technology to broadcast 
  • Pray at home or promote individual prayer 
  • Develop guidance for your congregations or share national resources to enable them to worship safely  

Additional measures you can take to help prevent the spread of the virus

In addition to this, I also ask that you continue to follow the Government guidance, this includes:  

  • Maintain good hygiene
  • Washing hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water 
  • Clean surfaces that are regularly touched with detergents and chlorine-based disinfectants (1000 ppm chlorine) 

What to do if you or someone in your household has symptoms

If you or someone in your household is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) then you will need to follow guidance on isolation:  

  • Stay at home if you have either: 
  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature) 
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual) 

How long to stay at home: 

  • if you have symptoms of coronavirus, you'll need to stay at home for 7 days 
  • if you live with someone who has symptoms, you'll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms 
  • If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days. 
  • If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. 

If you have any further questions please contact dphadmin@warwickshire.gov.uk

Doctor Shade Agboola Director of Public Health, Warwickshire

Public Health Warwickshire, People Directorate

Warwickshire County Council

Saltisford Office Park, Ansell Way, Warwick  CV34 4UL

For further information regarding Public Health please visit our website: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/publichealth

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