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COVID-19 — known to most as #coronavirus — looms large in the news right now. At the time of writing, there are nearly 300 confirmed cases in the UK, with three deaths — it’s serious business.

You or people you work with might be feeling somewhat anxious about this. It’s getting a lot of media coverage, and most of that coverage is a bit apocalyptic.

But you can combat this anxiety and continue as usual with these five tips:

  1. Be aware of your anxieties: sometimes the best way to manage anxiety is to acknowledge that it’s there. Whenever you find yourself drifting into thoughts about the coronavirus and the dreadful anxiety that it brings, make a conscious effort to change the subject in your mind. Practising mindfulness is a great way to do this—spending a minute concentrating on the things around you, rather than the worry in your head, goes a long way.
  2. Get away from the negativity: remember, news and media outlets sell papers by grabbing people’s attention. It’s natural for them to concentrate on the negativity around an event like the coronavirus outbreak because scary headlines capture people’s attention more effectively. It’s an unfortunate fact, but a true one nonetheless. Cutting down on the news will help you out here - turn off phone notifications, avoid the rolling 24-hour news channels and take every doomsaying prediction with a pinch of salt.
  3. Follow the expert advice: the World Health Organization has published some guidelines on preventing transmission of COVID-19— put simply, you should wash your hands thoroughly, avoid touching your face as much as possible, and seek medical care early if you have a fever, cough and breathing difficulties (especially if you’re older.)
  4. Don’t worry too much about your reaction: it’s natural to be stressed at a time like this. By keeping yourself full of the facts, avoiding too much negative news and practising good self-care per the WHO’s guidelines, you’ll help to reduce that stress. If you have kids, extend that care to them—keep to a routine, explain what’s happening and keep them confident.

Check-in on people: stay in contact with your friends and loved ones, and make sure they’re doing ok—again, especially if they’re older. 

David Price, workplace wellbeing expert and CEO at Health Assured

Reacting to the news that Government is suspending its ‘break in learning’ rule for #apprentices affected by Coronavirus, AELP chief executive Mark Dawe said:

“AELP is in constant contact with senior DfE officials over the impacts which the spread of the virus is having.  These can be categorised as immediate and medium to longer term if the situation continues to get worse.

“We welcome the prompt change to the break in learning rule, but it’s vital for the DfE to recognise and respond to the fact that in asking individual training providers and EPAOs to request exceptional treatment by learner is unrealistic.  The system simply couldn’t cope with the volume and therefore we need a change to a rule which will apply to everyone.

 “As well as breaks in learning, AELP will be asking the DfE to look at possible impact in relation to face-to face-delivery and assessment, time limits on EPA and rules around payments up to gateway and completion.  Measuring success in the future, which affects the funding and official registration of apprenticeship training providers, will need to allow for these circumstances.  

“The government must address the wider issue of apprenticeship contract payments to providers and the need for a coherent approach to all further education and skills providers (funded by grant or by contract) to ensure they survive what is likely to be a period of falling attendance and falling recruitment across all streams of funding whether it’s apprenticeships, adult education, study programmes, traineeships etc.”

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“Protecting and supporting communities, including our most vulnerable, remains councils’ top priority as the nation contains and delays coronavirus.

“Council staff continue to work day-and-night to support national efforts to contain the virus and minimise the spread of infection. They are doing an amazing job in hugely challenging circumstances.

“A widespread coronavirus epidemic across the country would inevitably have an impact on the wide range of services councils provide and communities rely on. As always, they will follow the expert advice from our Directors of Public Health, Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer.

“Councils are aware that residents will have concerns for vulnerable family and friends if this virus spreads further. They have plans in place for every possible scenario, for example if large numbers of key workers are off sick at one time or schools are closed, or if extraordinary containment or delay measures are recommended by the Government.

“This includes looking at how they could best use their staff and mobilise resources to continue supporting the most vulnerable and mitigate against the inevitable disruption to other important services, such as bin collections and street cleaning.

“If the virus spreads further, demand for adult social care services will rise due to increased illness among those who use these services, as well as reduced capacity as social care staff fall ill themselves.

“This could be further impacted by hospitals needing to discharge people even sooner than at present owing to the pressures on them, as well as other factors such as school closures or transport restrictions.

“Public health services have seen funding reduced by £700 million in real terms over the past five years and are still in the dark about the amount of funding they will have from April.

“The public health grant has to be published by the Government with the utmost urgency and the upcoming Budget needs to ensure councils receive the immediate financial support they need to match that offered to the NHS to deal with coronavirus.

“Councils need adequate resources and funding certainty to not only cope with this immediate coronavirus crisis but to continue providing other vital public health services for the long term, such as those tackling teenage pregnancy, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, sexually transmitted infections and substance misuse.”

Thérèse Coffey, the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions, has made an oral statement to Parliament about the coronavirus (COVID-19):

"The department is fully prepared for all eventualities and has conducted extensive planning against reasonable worst case scenarios. I have been in discussions with the chancellor and will continue to work across government to prepare.

"If claimants cannot attend their jobcentre appointment in person because of self-isolation, work coaches can exercise discretion, so claimants should engage with them and they will not be sanctioned – as long they let us know before the appointment.

"And as my Rt Hon Friend the Prime Minister set out last week ‘nobody should be penalised for doing the right thing’.

"That’s why the government’s safety net also extends to those who are self-employed or who work in the gig-economy. They can apply for Universal Credit or new-style ESA. Advances are available for Universal Credit immediately.

"Madame Deputy Speaker, these are exceptional circumstances and we will support workers to do the right thing for their health and the protection of public health."

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The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

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