How to manage a COVID-19 outbreak

Brassica farm in Cornwall - David Simmons, Horticulture magazine_60805

With a return to work in many sectors and a focus on managing local outbreaks to limit further transmission, the government has issued advice on how to manage COVID-19 outbreaks.

What is meant by an outbreak?

A COVID-19 outbreak is defined as one or more confirmed cases of COVID-19.

When does an outbreak need to be reported to Public Health England?

Some types of business or organisation need to report an outbreak to Public Health England (PHE) with just one confirmed case. For farming and other industries where people work outdoors, PHE should be notified when there is more than one confirmed case.

How do I contact Public Health England?

Click here for contact details for your local Public Health England Health Protection Team (PHE HPT).

The actions that need to be taken can vary between different industries. To help you understand what to do and when, PHE has published early outbreak management ‘Action Cards’ covering a range of businesses. The Action Cards provide specific advice on the issues different types of businesses/organisations may face. The sectors covered include:

  • Small and large gatherings (entertainment and tourist resorts, places of worship and tourist attractions)
  • Residential workplaces (campsites and caravan parks, hotels, and other guest accommodation)
  • Workplaces (including food and drink establishments, food processing, construction and shops)

Persons responsible for a workplace should download the relevant guide and keep it to hand for quick reference when needed.

Click here to download the Action Cards.

Seasonal workers

What steps do I need to take to manage a possible outbreak?

Key steps identified to manage an outbreak in an outdoor work context are:

Step 1 – Identify

You may be informed of a confirmed case of COVID-19 by NHS Test and Trace, an employee, visitor, or your local PHE HPT. When you are informed of more than one confirmed case, go to step 2.

Refer to NHS Test and Trace workplace guidance or search on the Gov.uk website for further advice.

Step 2 – Report

Contact your local PHE HPT for help and advice. Click here for contact details. Early engagement with your local PHE HPT is key to minimising any possible wider outbreak in your community.

Step 3 – Respond

Your local PHE HPT will work with you to assess the risks and advise you of what actions to take.

Depending on the outcome, your local PHE HPT and local authority may establish an Outbreak Control Team to help support you to manage the situation.

Types of actions that may be needed to manage an early outbreak include:

  • Enhanced hygiene, hand washing and cleaning regimes, and use of personal protective equipment
  • Enhanced testing and tracing
  • Increased staff awareness of and adherence to preventative measures
  • Additional measures to limit access or temporary closure of a site or work unit

More information

Further advice on how to work safely during COVID-19 is available from:

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