National Pig Association - The voice of the British pig industry

Pig World logo

Home > News > Coronavirus needs putting in context. We also need to be ready for staff shortages

Coronavirus needs putting in context. We also need to be ready for staff shortages

28th Feb 2020 / By Zoe Davies

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies puts the Corobavirus outbreak into context and issues useful advice about potential staffing issues.

Zoe Davies1With increasing rumblings about the latest flu virus to hit the world, news of this Coronavirus or, to state its official title COVID-19, has taken the media by storm ever since it emerged in Wuhan City in China back in December. 

The panic mill has certainly gone into overdrive as images of hazmat suited health officials roaming hospitals chock full of poor souls all quarantined up to the nines have circulated and the number of people and countries affected are increasing by the day.

People are cancelling holidays, avoiding public places and quite a few schools and doctor’s surgeries have shut as a precaution. Whilst any new flu variant is potentially serious, it really does need putting into context, and I’m sick of feeling like I’m going to be lynched every time I sneeze on the flipping tube …

Every year 1 BILLION people get flu and up to 650,000 die from it.  COVID-19 has thus far claimed a total of 2,700 people with 80,000 affected, largely contained to China. In the UK only 15 people have tested positive so far with thankfully no deaths.  You could say that any number is too high, but in the scheme of things, this really is just A.N.Other flu variant.

Having said that though, people do have serious concerns about maintaining staffing levels and what they would do if more than usual staff are off in terms of managing the pigs.

Public Health England have some very useful advice for businesses in relation to staff - click here to view it – but largely this is just standard advice about biosecurity that people working with animals should be adhering to already.

Wash your hands, cover your nose when you sneeze and use a tissue! Clearly anyone who has been to any of the ‘at risk’ countries listed should self-quarantine for 14 days if worried, but most people that are infected will only have mild symptoms (81% according to the WHO). 

The foreign office is currently only suggesting people avoid travel to some areas in China, South Korea and the hot spot towns in Italy, and although this advice may change, it clearly demonstrates that most places aren’t really deemed a threat at present.

Thankfully, although pigs do suffer from other types of Coronavirus (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea Virus is one), this version appears to have originated in bats… And so far there has been no evidence of transfer to pigs, but people should always be careful!