Protecting our collective wellbeing
Public health guidance is a live debate, and while flip-flopping on various strategies to contain the virus has weakened the public’s trust in the government’s ability to manage the crisis, public health guidelines should not be ignored. They are not the sole purview of the current government, informed as they are by advice and input from the global scientific and health community.
We highly recommend everybody accept the current scientific consensus regarding social distancing and personal hygiene (e.g. regular handwashing).
In the UK, public guidance has come very late and has been so generic as to be meaningless for many.
Alongside the government’s and NHS advice for the population at large we intend to house more targeted information, orientated towards the needs of specific groups—be that the disabled, the LGBQT community, or the elderly. In most, if not all instances, this information has been researched and written from the perspectives of those whom it seeks to address. This section includes links to specific community organisations, campaigning groups, and an FAQs section; if you have a question that isn’t yet answered, please submit it and we’ll research the answer. If you find the information here useful, please consider sharing it with others and expanding the bandwidth of these discussions and concerns. People’s survival may well depend on spreading wider knowledge of their particular risks.
In an era of fake news and online culture wars, it is important to share reliable content. We will continue to monitor the situation and update this section as and when further announcements are made, and we will review the source and the content before posting because we want you to have confidence in the information that you find here.
Guidance for specific groups and issues
More physical and mental health resources in the Culture and Learning section
Health and Safety FAQs
If you have a question that it is not already answered fill out this form and we shall endeavour to research the answer.
What should I do if I think I have symptoms of COVID-19?
The WHO states that “The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.”
The NHS advises that you should stay at home for 7 days if you have symptoms. If you still have a temperature (fever) after 7 days, you should continue to stay at home until your temperature is back within normal range.
You should not go to a hospital, GP surgery, or pharmacy. Instead, you should use the online symptom checker. Only if you are not able to use the online service should you call 111.
What should I do if I have been in contact with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19?
Based on currently available data, the WHO estimates the incubation period as being between 1–14 days with a median of 5 days. This means that you could transmit the virus during this period even without manifesting any symptoms. The NHS advises that everyone else in a household with someone who has COVID-19 should self-isolate for 14 days counting from the first day on which that original person had symptoms. You should do this even if you do not develop symptoms.
What steps can I take to protect myself and others if I do not need to self-isolate?
Practising good hygiene is key. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly like this; always wash them when you get home or into work. Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. You should cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze, and put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.
Try to avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus. If you live with someone who has symptoms, the NHS has advice here. The WHO advises that you should maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing because COVID–19 is transmitted via small droplets from the mouth or nose.
If you are making a delivery to someone who is in an at-risk group or otherwise self-isolating, you should take more rigorous precautions to disinfect items and the bags that they are in, and to maintain a distance of at least 2 metres when they open the door; see instructions here.
Avoid all but essential travel on public transport, all large gatherings, and all social activities. As of the evening of Friday 20 March, all cafés, restaurants, bars, pubs, nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms, and leisure centres are closed. Wherever possible you should access NHS services over the phone or online. If you need to go to the supermarket or pharmacy (and you do not need to self-isolate), consider only one person in your household going out.
Unless you are a key worker, you should work from home. We know that not all employers are making this possible, so see the section on workplace struggle to check what is required in terms of health and safety at work, what provisions your employer should be making, what steps your union is taking, or how to join a union if you are not already a member.
How should I be washing my hands?
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly like this.
How do I safely deliver to or collect from someone who is in an at-risk group or otherwise in self-isolation?
You should not enter the person’s home. You will also need a carefully planned out process for disinfecting items with which they will come into contact or will enter their home. Please consult the detailed guide from QueerCare here.
Can I safely have sex?
COVID–19 is not sexually transmitted, but it can be transmitted via kissing and research suggests that it may also be transmissible via the fecal-oral route (through the inadvertent ingestion of feces). If you and your partner live together and do not have any symptoms, it is probably safe to do so. If you and your partner live apart, you would be advised to practice physical distancing. Dating is high risk. Specific guidelines for sex workers are available here.
What about exercise?
Exercise is in general good for your health. If you are not strictly self-isolating you may exercise by yourself outside in an open space.
How should I look after myself if I have mild symptoms?
Paracetamol can be taken to reduce a temperature. The WHO currently says that the evidence of the impact of Ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is unclear. You should keep up your intake of fluids.
How can I safely do leafleting or postering?
You must not do any leafleting or postering if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with anyone who has symptoms or has tested positive for the virus.
You should not knock on doors as this increases the risk of transmission. If someone opens the door you must move so you are standing over 2m away from them. You must not enter their house; if they ask you to, you should politely refuse.
Otherwise, you should follow the principles for making deliveries provided and updated by QueerCare. You should follow their safety guidelines so as not to increase the spread of the virus—please see principles and assumptions for doing support work in the COVID-19 pandemic and policy for doing support work in the COVID-19 pandemic.
When printing and packing leaflets, you should ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly and disinfect anything that will touch a leaflet (eg. the printer bed). Don’t touch leaflets with hands that have touched anything that hasn’t been disinfected without washing your hands first. Once the leaflets come out of the printer, put them directly into a ziploc bag (in small piles up to about 40) with minimal handling. Seal the ziploc bags. Don’t put leaflets in your day-to-day bag if they are not sealed in a ziploc bag.
Before going out to deliver leaflets, you should disinfect the handle to your front door, your keys and anything else you will touch as you leave the house. Wash your hands thoroughly.
While delivering leaflets, you should work in pairs for general safety, but you should not stand closer than 2m to your buddy. A good way for this to work would be for one person to leaflet one side of the road whilst the other leaflets the other. This way you can keep an eye on each other and check on one another’s wellbeing and safety, but you won’t need to stand close to each other.
Each ziploc bag must only be handled by one person. Use one hand for handling and posting leaflets. This hand should only touch the leaflets and the ziploc bag—nothing else. Use the other hand for opening gates and letter boxes. This hand should not touch the leaflets. If you are able to regularly wash or sanitise your hands as you go along, you should do this.
Once you’ve finished, throw away or disinfect the ziploc bag. Wash your hands thoroughly. Disinfect your keys, front door handle and anything else you touched when entering the house.