Monday 23rd March 2020
As concerns related to the spread of Coronavirus / Covid 19 and the potential implication for the continuity of service should infection levels increase significantly within the coming weeks and months, we have taken the decision update our clients on the steps that ALS are taking in order to protect our staff from the risk of the infection and to maintain a continuity of service should we be impacted by the spread of the disease.
Since the update to our clients on 13th March about the actions ALS Laboratories were taking, the situation has moved on very rapidly. I would like to take the opportunity to provide you with an update on the plans we are implementing to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
Our primary objectives remain to protect our staff from the risk of infection and to maintain, so far as possible, a continuity of service should we be affected by the disease directly or indirectly. Our local compliance teams continue to monitor the advice provided and we also benefit from the support of the ALS corporate compliance team. Based upon this advice, we are convinced that the three-stage plan we have adopted of Prevention, Restriction, and Continuity remains the correct strategy and so far, is being effective in reducing the impacts on our business as far as possible. To take each phase in turn:
We have now implemented a total ban upon international travel for any business purpose. Staff who are intending to travel overseas for non-business purposes are required to register this with the company and may be required to self-Isolate for up to 14 days before returning to work.
We continue to provide our staff with information regarding the actions to take to avoid infection such as handwashing etc. We have also made further improvements to our internal cleaning and housekeeping processes to reduce the risk of person-to-person infection within our laboratories.
We are making additional arrangements to allow more of our staff to work from home and are requesting staff who must work on site to take actions such as staggered break times to reduce the level of person-to-person contact. We have also asked staff to reduce UK travel as far as possible and to make much greater use of tools for online meetings such as Skype.
Unfortunately, we believe it is sensible to take steps to reduce the number of visitors to our laboratories and again are encouraging the use of Skype and teleconferencing for meetings. Where visitors need to attend our facilities, they are now required to undertake an infection risk assessment before being allowed on site.
To date our prevention strategy appears to have been effective and we have no confirmed cases of coronavirus. In line with government guidance, we have provided enhanced advice on when staff should self-isolate if they or a family member suffer from any of the symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
We are also undertaking risk assessments for any staff who are identified as being of high risk of medical complications and are developing individual mitigation plans where appropriate.
We have also adopted a policy that if a coronavirus case is identified in the work environment the areas the individual has worked will be closed and deep cleaned and any colleagues who have worked closely with the infected individual will be required to self-isolate.
We do have an increased level of staff absence due to self-isolation and the need to care for dependents due to school closures, however, at the present time we continue to be able to offer our full analytical capability. We have a daily senior management team review meeting to allow us to identify any issues within our operational capability. We continue to develop more detailed plans for business continuity should any of our laboratory services become disrupted.
We appreciate that the situation continues to develop rapidly and so we are keeping our plans under constant review and we will write to you again should our plans change in any significant way.
I hope that this provides you with some reassurance that ALS Laboratories are taking the necessary steps to ensure a continuity of service but if you require any further information please contact your customer services representative.