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Diplomatic Service: Coronavirus

Question for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

UIN HL12325, tabled on 19 January 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are in place to protect British civil servants and consular staff working abroad from COVID-19.

Answered on

2 February 2021

UK based and international staff and their families undergo robust health clearance before they are posted to our embassies and missions overseas, or before travelling on official business. This ensures that any individual health risk can be mitigated by taking into account medical history, intended country of posting and occupation. Staff health overseas is overseen by our One HMG Healthline and advice from NHS trained doctors and nurses is available 24/7. The majority of government departments who deploy staff to the FCDO's overseas missions share this approach, although a small number opt for alternative medical cover. Staff and families are also supported by the FCDO Overseas Health and Welfare Team or HR teams in their own departments. The FCDO Chief Medical Officer and her team of health advisers advise our missions and their staff on the public health and hygiene measures they need to take individually and collectively to stay COVID safe. We keep healthcare overseas and medical evacuation under regular review. Our Estates professionals provide advice to ensure our offices and residential accommodation are maintained as COVID-secure environments for all staff and their families.

We are mindful of the need to protect our consular staff who provide help and support to British Nationals around the world 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Staff are able to provide support remotely and where face to face contact is necessary this is by appointment only. We have made adaptations to public counters and waiting rooms to make them COVID-secure and staff and visitors must adhere to stringent preventive measures including social distancing, face covering and hand hygiene. Where local COVID restrictions allow visits to British nationals in hospital or detention, we consider these on a case by case basis following a risk assessment. Consular staff handle challenging and distressing cases and are encouraged to attend regular wellbeing supervision sessions which are continuing remotely.