Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Updated 2020-08-01, first published 2020-03-05.

WE ARE OPEN. WE NEVER CLOSED.

UPDATED ADVICE:. As of today, the rules of what you can and cannot do, where you can fly to, and what to do about summer holidays are even more confusing. It is a time of increased concern and rolling regional restrictions. It is also an opportunity to change working practices, improve the environment and work on creating a better, fairer, future for everyone.

Strict social-distancing remains in place and the wearing of masks is recommended in all indoor and crowded public spaces where close contact is more likely. The government is saying “Those who cannot work at home should return to work”, although we are recommending the more sensible “those who CAN work from home should continue to do so on a continuing basis and avoid the office unless absolutely necessary”.

We said back in June that updates to this article were likely at an end, but the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly moved into the second stage of increasing infections, subsequent outbreak clusters, and the return of restrictions. And that’s just in Europe. Parts of the world that bypassed this first time around are now being hit.

You should read the Official Government Advice. This information changes frequently. Other jurisdictions will have different policies and laws, specifically now in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

We must ALL continue to take responsibility for good hygiene and diligently adhering to anti-infection and anti-transmission practices.

What about us?

We operate a tried-and-tested location independent business model (it’s over 20 years since we adopted remote working), the team operates out of micro-offices and individual homes across the UK and North America. Using a distributed-location model allows us to mitigate the internal spread of infection dramatically. None of us is in what are deemed high-risk categories, nor is anyone reporting any symptoms and no one has had a positive test. We are all working 100% from home for the foreseeable future, probably forever.

Since we started actively monitoring the spread of the virus in February, we have taken a number of measures to further reduce to spread of the virus:

  • Our Summer Corporate event has been cancelled.
  • The team communicate using digital and telephony and work 100% from home.
  • No unnecessary face-to-face meetings. We use Zoom, Skype, Google Hangout, FaceTime, WhatsApp and Slack to communicate.
  • All international business travel is on hold.
  • Planned attendance at conferences and other group-like activity is on hold.
  • Social distancing policies introduced in public places the first week of March include 2m gaps and avoiding: the tube, peak-hour travel, and trains. From May the 1st the advice was updated to recommend the wearing of masks in indoor and crowded spaces.
  • Screens on computers, tablets, and phones should be cleaned as per Apple’s updated methods that now permits a use of a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe. You may wish to extend this cleaning routine to other frequently handled devices including remotes, chargers, headphones, keyboards, etc.
  • Drugs: Use of NSAI to treat fevers in adults is discouraged. This includes Ibuprofen and Aspirin. Additional Vitamin D3 is recommended, especially in folks with darker skin which produces vitamin D at a slower rate..
  • The initial viral load absorbed is possibly linked to the severity of the infection. Particular care should be taken with regard to proximity to “coughers” and “sneezers”.
  • For those not showing symptoms, household isolation linked with occasional, managed, contact with restricted non-vulnerable groups is accepted as a good balance between mental health and risk of infection. Social distancing must be in place at all times.
  • Adopt a pragmatic approach of being aware of our surroundings and being prepared to take protective measures such as the wearing of masks.
  • Access to both Antigen and Antibody tests have been secured and a regime of “possible exposure-antigen test-antibody test” is encouraged where high-risk activity is unavoidable.

TRACKING THE OUTBREAK

We starting tracking the outbreak in quite granular detail in late February. Since the peak in early April we have been forecasting the fall in deaths with quite surprising accuracy, as can be seen from the graph on the right.

What we didn’t see back in April was the possibility of a second rise in infection and deaths – we expected the COVID-19 disease to fall to a nominal level by the end of June and then mostly peter out.

However, the data is starting suggest that we are going to see increases in cases and deaths, although ongoing therapeutic developments such as Dexamethasone and Beta Interferon will reduce the case fatality rate. Updated as of the end of July, we can see the deaths continue to fall, but this slowed to a crawl and showing every sign of reversing the downward trend and starting to rise again.

Sadly, we’re expecting the deaths to continue into next year, albeit at a much lower level than we saw in April. No one at Connected is knowingly infected, nor immune, either. Every death is a real person, a family grieving, someone missing from the population and we understand how hard this has been. To put this into some context, at the peak almost 7,000 people a week were dying from this vile disease, as of the last week of July this is down to under 500 a week. In a normal (non-COVID) week, around 10,000 people die every week in the UK.

The post-COVID world is looking quite different. There is most definitely a new normal now on the horizon, one that respects social distance, mask-wearing is accepted behaviour and an improved track and trace programme.

Financially, we have not needed any of the government bailouts, nor do we plan to take advantage as we’re still operating, albeit at a slightly reduced level but continue to make a profit. It would feel morally wrong for us to take advantage of the situation when so many others are in genuine need. No staff are furloughed, and the partners in the business took a 50% pay cut from March through June.

Connected are a “fair tax” organisation and financially strong which, combined with a scalable cost base, and no-frills approach to running a business means we can comfortably weather this crisis. The balance sheet and our reserves can sustain us as the crisis extends into 2021 and beyond.

This is version 18 of the document.