Coronavirus (COVID-19) update for the Sikh community – correct as of 12th March 2020
Please share this important message with friends and family, as well as colleagues and others in the Sikh community
The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public to ‘high’. It is now a pandemic, and it is important that gurdwaras and other Sikh institutions and organisations are prepared.
This document provides guidance for gurdwaras and others working in the Sikh community.
The Prime Minister has described this as the “worst public health crisis for a generation”, and the aim of the British Government is now to delay the spread of the Coronavirus so that public resources are not overstretched.
The Government advice page can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
Most people recover from the Coronavirus after having flu like symptoms for about a week. There is no vaccine as yet.
Health advice can be found here – https://www.nhs.uk/coronavirus/
A localised breakdown of people diagnosed with Coronavirus in the UK can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-track-coronavirus-cases
The Coronavirus outbreak is going to last for the next few months, and we will be in these extraordinary circumstances for the long haul.
The symptoms of Coronavirus are a cough, a high temperature, and shortness of breath. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.
There will no longer be any testing for people with symptoms who are at home. Testing is now only going to be for patients at hospital and for the most vulnerable people.
You should stay at home and self-isolate for 7 days if:
· you have a new continuous cough
· you have a high temperature
Even if symptoms are mild, you should stay at home and self-isolate for 7 days. That is when people are believed to be most contagious.
If you have mild symptoms, please do not call 111. Just stay at home for 7 full days.
For more guidance for what to do if you have to stay at home, please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
If symptoms become worse or they do not get better after 7 days, then you should call 111 for more advice.
India has banned all travel by non-Indian citizens into the country until 15th April 2020. If you have a visa or an OCI card, you will not be able to travel to India during this period.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all but essential travel to:
- Specific areas in South Korea
If you are travelling abroad, please check https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to see what the advice is for your particular country
International school trips are being advised against.
Over 70s are being advised to avoid going on cruises.
Keeping the Sangat Safe at the Gurdwara
- Make sure that there are enough soap supplies by wash basins
- Avoid using cotton towels. Use paper towels or hand dryers instead
- Wash any rumaals and chunniya regularly, and ask people to put rumaals/chunniya in a separate wash basket after use
- Have posters up to encourage people to wash their hands regularly whilst at the gurdwara
- Be aware that hand sanitizers contain alcohol, so soap and water is the best way to ensure hygiene at the gurdwara
- Avoid hugs and handshakes, and instead greet people with a traditional ‘Sat Sri Akal’
- Regularly clean the area in front of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib where people will be touching their head on the floor for mattha teek
- Regularly clean surfaces that will be touched frequently, such as door handles and the golak
- Sewadars looking after shoes are encouraged to wash their hands regularly or wear disposable gloves which are regularly changed
- If you have a cough or a temperature, you should not visit the gurdwara
Langar and Prashad
- Sewadars are encouraged to wear disposable plastic gloves when preparing and serving langar or parshad
- Do not touch the hands of the person receiving the langar or parshad
- Cups and plates should be taken to be washed immediately after use
- If someone wishes to have more langar or water/tea, they should be served in a fresh plate or glass/cup
- If someone wishes to have additional roti/parshadey, they should be served in a fresh plate
- If anyone is coughing in or near the langar preparation or serving area, they should be removed from the area immediately
- No sewadars should be allowed in the kitchen if they are not feeling well
- People should wash their hands before and after having langar and prashad
- If a sewadar touches their face, they should wash their hands immediately
- If you are having langar and you start coughing, please leave the langar hall immediately
Older people and Other Vulnerable People
Older people and those with underlying health conditions are most at risk from the Coronavirus, and they appear to have a higher mortality rate.
If you have older relatives, please stay away from them if you have any symptoms, even if the symptoms are mild.
If you live with older relatives and you have symptoms, please stay at least 2 metres away from them at all times and use a separate bathroom to them.
You should also think of what other actions you will take to help older relatives, such as making sure their kitchens are well stocked and they have enough medication available at home.
Many gurdwaras attract a higher proportion of older people, so please be aware of the impact on them if any issues do arise.
Gurdwaras should try to set up live streaming of programmes on social media so that older people who have to self-isolate can continue to engage as part of an online sangat.
Gurdwaras should think about helping older people to set up Facebook and other social media accounts so that they can access gurdwara pages to watch live programmes. Social media training workshops may be necessary to help them to do that.
Gurdwaras may want to consider mobile langar services for older people in their local area to ensure they can still partake in langar whilst they are in self-isolation.
Now that Coronavirus is a pandemic, there is the possibility of up to 1 in every 5 people being ill at the same time. Gurdwaras and organisations are encouraged to consider what contingencies they have to continue operating as normal.
Questions to think about include:
- Are there enough sewadars to ensure that the langar can be prepared and served?
- What will you do if a giani becomes unwell?
- Are there others who can step up to duties if necessary? Do you have their contact details?
Vaisakhi is just 1 month away. Please consider contingency plans for events, including for nagar kirtans and other large-scale events.
The Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtan in Southall has been postponed until later in the year.
Other gurdwaras and organisations are also beginning to think about delaying large-scale Vaisakhi events until the summer.
As a significant number of people who attend Vaisakhi events are older people, you may need to think of how they will be kept safe during the festivities.
Gurdwaras and other organisations should think about how they will make Vaisakhi celebration accessible for people who are having to self-isolate, such as streaming events via social media and sending shareable links for the streaming via WhatsApp.
Gurdwaras and other organisations should also consider building up a list of telephone numbers for older people and other vulnerable members of their sangat so that they can be kept informed of timings of streamed events via WhatsApp.
Signage for Gurdwaras
Regular updates will be provided over the coming weeks, so please keep an eye out for them.
If you have any questions, please email email@example.com