The number of coronavirus cases in Britain has jumped overnight to 51 people, it has been confirmed.
Yesterday, 39 people had been confirmed as having the virus but that has now been revised upwards, with the figure expected to climb again in the coming days. The increase in cases is likely to add extra strain to an already overstretched NHS, and there are concerns NHS staff may force themselves into work to ensure they get full pay.
It is thought that more than 75% of outsourced NHS staff feel forced to come into work even when they are ill, GMB research reveals.
An exclusive focus group conducted for Channel 4 news tonight revealed 77% of cleaners, porters and security guards and patient transport staff employed by private contractors for the NHS admit being forced to come in to work because they can’t make ends meet without proper sick pay.
The research also reveals 78% have no sick pay at all for the first three days off.
In the face of the COVID-19 global health crisis this represents a risk to public health that Government needs to try and stamp out.
Public health crisis
The Government already has the powers to solve this public health crisis and could introduce a statutory right to normal pay during any period of self-isolation recommended by PHE, by amending rights which already exist under the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Lola McEvoy, GMB Organiser, said: “This research shows the dire choice our NHS members are left in. It’s not just a risk to their health and dignity but it’s poses a massive public health risk to the whole UK.
“How can you try and stop the spread of COVID-19 when three quarters of health workers are under massive financial pressure to come into work even if they are showing signs of Coronavirus?
“Never mind its battle plan, the Government could solve stem the crisis by increasing the scope of statutory sick pay to ensure full wages from day one in suspected COVID-19 cases, and address the need for full sick pay for all workers – including those in the NHS and beyond.”
“If they are serious about the health of the British public, they must do so immediately.”
Deaths from Covid-19
The death rate for people infected with coronavirus is “significantly ramped up” among people over the age of 80, officials said.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said that overall around 1% of people who become infected “might end up dying”.
The government’s new battle plan for tackling the virus states that the elderly and people with pre-existing illnesses would be at highest risk.
Worst-case scenario planning has estimated that up to 80% of the population could become infected.