Brits will never go to work with a cough or cold again, says top health boss

BRITS will never go to work with a cough a cold again as it will be deemed "socially unacceptable", a top health boss has warned.

That means that if you've got the sniffles or are suffering from a seasonal cough or cold then you could be forced to work from home.

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Professor Dame Angela McLean today told the Science and Technology Select Committee that coronavirus vaccines wouldn't be enough for life to return to normal.

Vaccines to fight Covid-19 have been hailed as the "way out of the pandemic" by ministers.

So far across the UK over 15.5 million people have received a first dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab or the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, with over half a million having received a second dose.

Dame Angela this morning said: "If they are infectious, vaccines alone wont be enough for a complete return to how we used to behave.

"I think its quite unlikely that we will return completely to the way we behaved in February 2020.

"There are things we used to do that I suspect we won't do anymore.

"I suspect we will not go to work if we have a respiratory virus. I think it'll be socially unacceptable to go work with a cough."

It comes as:

  • Boris Johnson confirms lockdown lift WILL be in stages and hospitality likely to be one of the last to ‘fully reopen’
  • As 1.7million extra Brits told to shield from Covid – are YOU on the list?
  • The four tests Govt will have to pass to bring us out of lockdown – and how soon it could happen
  • Covid restrictions to ‘continue until daily cases drop below 1,000’ as Government prepares ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown
  • Four common Covid symptoms MUST be added to official list after millions of cases, experts warn

Across the UK people have been asked to "work from home" where they can in order to stop the spread of Covid-19.

This policy was also introduced so that public transport would be less crowded, in an aim to curb infections spreading.

Asked if this would be mandated, Dame Angela said it would be "most powerful if it simply became socially unacceptable to go to work with a cough".

She said: "There are certain illnesses that you can't go to work with at the moment, so if you have a tummy upset or something like that would be very powerful.

"Certainly we would not want people to be going out if they know they have Covid and that makes a big difference to transmission", she added.

Her comments today come after it was revealed that office staff will have to continue to work from home even when lockdown restrictions are eased.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not expected to reveal a date for when workers can return to their offices when he unveils his roadmap to return the country to normality on February 22.

WORK FROM HOME

It’s expected the “work from home if you can” message will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

A few large firms have already delayed a return to the office desk until at least the end of the year.

Some studies though have claimed productivity is reduced if workers log in from home rather than the office.

Conservative backbenchers urged the government last night to provide clarity on when staff may be able to return to their desks.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: "We need to get people back to work as soon as possible.

“There are lots of reasons why work is important to our lives. It affects people’s physical and mental wellbeing and there are issues around productivity.

 

“I would like to see as much detail as possible in the roadmap to help people to make plans. They need to know in advance.”

The “work from home” message was brought in at the start of the first lockdown last March.

That changed though during the summer as Covid cases eased and employees were urged to return to their offices in a bid to get Britain working again, despite objections from Labour MPs and trade unions.

When Johnson announced the third national lockdown at the start of this year he said people should go to work only if they “absolutely” could not work from home.

In November last year Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested that Brits should take more sick days – echoing comments from Dame McLean that you should stay at home if you're suffering from a respiratory illness.

He previously told the Health Select Committee that he wants to “see a change” in the way British people handle being unwell, including making testing a priority with any illness.

Mr Hancock said: "I want to have a change in the British way of doing things where 'if in doubt, get a test' doesn't just refer to coronavirus but refers to any illness that you might have.

"Why in Britain do we think it's acceptable to soldier on and go into work if you have flu symptoms or a runny nose, thus making your colleagues ill?

"I think that's something that is going to have to change.

"If you have in future flu-like symptoms, you should get a test for it and find out what's wrong with you, and if you need to stay at home to protect others, then you should stay at home."

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