COVID-19 (commonly referred to as ‘Coronavirus’) is the illness seen in people infected with a new strain of coronavirus not previously seen in humans. On 31 December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) of an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, which was later classified as a new disease: COVID-19. 

Based on current evidence, the main symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a (dry) cough
  • a high temperature (persistently higher than 37.5°C)
  • in severe cases, shortness of breath

COVID-19 has the potential to spread extensively; immunity has not developed in the community and nor is there yet a preventative vaccine for the disease.

A minority of people who contract the virus develop respiratory (breathing) complications, primarily pneumonia. This may be severe enough for hospital care. Risk is increased for older people (especially those over 80) and those with underlying health conditions. 

Illness is less common and less severe in younger adults and children. So far, there has been no obvious sign that pregnant women are more likely to be seriously affected.

The UK and Scottish Governments are pursuing an action plan based on the principles of Contain, Delay, Research and Mitigate, and we are being guided by that action plan in our decision-making:

  • Contain: detect early cases, follow up close contacts, and prevent the disease taking hold in this country for as long as is reasonably possible
  • Delay: slow the spread in this country, if it does take hold, lowering the peak impact and pushing it away from the winter season
  • Research: better understand the virus and the actions that will lessen its effect on the UK population; innovate responses including diagnostics, drugs and vaccines; use the evidence to inform the development of the most effective models of care 
  • Mitigate: provide the best care possible for people who become ill, support hospitals to maintain essential services and ensure ongoing support for people ill in the community to minimise the overall impact of the disease on society, public services, and on the economy. 

COVID-19 and Nevis Ensemble

Nevis Ensemble is currently in a ‘quiet season’ with main 2020 touring with the full orchestra scheduled from mid-April onwards. The organisation has project work taking place throughout Scotland with small numbers of musicians working in community settings such as schools and care homes. It is difficult to project how the virus might affect the organisation, but current statistics suggest that up to a fifth of Nevis Ensemble musicians might be affected in the coming months.

Given that Nevis Ensemble musicians do not regularly meet in this period, the effect on our work – for the moment – is minimal. We have decided to stop workshops until at least 20 April 2020, and touring is on hold until the end of April 2020.

Nevis Ensemble musicians worried about their wider work (give that freelance workers will be affected more than salaried workers), should look at the resources collated here: by Independent Arts Projects, including possible sources of financial support as well as mental health support.


Nevis Ensemble is based at The Briggait building in Glasgow, operated by WASPS Studios. WASPS has confirmed that the building will remain open and that normal service will continue unless we are told otherwise. If a tenant of the building should come into contact with the virus, WASPS will undertake disinfection of potentially infected areas. Nevertheless, Nevis Ensemble is discouraging staff, musicians and trustees from meeting at The Briggait and to work from home. Face-to-face meetings between Nevis Ensemble staff and other organisations should be suspended for the time being.


Nevis Ensemble musicians are currently engaged in a number of projects where small numbers of musicians work in community settings such as schools and care homes.

As of 17 March 2020, we have decided to put all of our projects on hold until at least 20 April 2020. Planned workshop sessions will ideally be rescheduled rather than cancelled outright.

If any of our musicians who have been delivering workshops come into contact with the virus, they should self-isolate as directed by the UK and Scottish Governments.


Nevis Ensemble was planned to be engaged in touring with the full orchestra from 16 April, and again in May, June, August and November.

We have decided to suspend all touring from 17 March until 20 April 2020. For May touring, we will revise the situation, based on the advice and context, in due course.

Tours in June, August and November will, for the moment, continue as planned.


  1. The single most effective way to avoid acquiring or spreading coronavirus is to frequently and thoroughly wash your hands, and to encourage others to do the same. The NHS advises washing your hands for about 20 seconds. Whilst hand sanitisers are in short supply in shops and supermarkets, soap and water is arguably more effective.
  2. Catch sneezes or coughs in a tissue and dispose of it quickly and safely, and encourage others to do the same. If you cannot use a tissue, then cough/sneeze into the crook of your elbow.
  3. Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of respiratory infection.
  4. If you have a cold or flu or symptoms of respiratory tract infection, we recommend that you self-isolate until your acute symptoms have subsided, and avoid spreading infection to friends and colleagues.

The Government has advised that you should self-isolate if you have recently returned from or travelled through a Category 1 high-risk country or area in which there is spread of coronavirus infection. Currently these areas include parts of China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. Exact areas can be found here.

If you remain concerned, on developing symptoms including a dry cough and/or high temperature, or any respiratory difficulties, the NHS advice as at 13 March 2020 is:

  • Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms
  • Stay at home for 7 days if you have either:
    • a high temperature
    • a new, continuous cough
  • Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
  • You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.
  • Read the NHS advice: advice about staying at home.

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online. BSL users can contact NHS 111 via ContactSCOTLAND-BSL

Managing rising anxiety or stigma

We know that your communities may be feeling anxious, stressed or frightened. Here are some important things to take into account and share with your community members:

  • It’s normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared or angry during a crisis. Talking to people you trust can help, such as friends and family or your fellow community members.
  • If you must stay at home, maintain a healthy lifestyle, including proper diet, sleep and exercise. Keep up with loved ones at home by email and phone and connect with your larger online community for support.
  • Don’t use smoking, alcohol or other drugs to deal with your emotions.
  • If you feel overwhelmed, talk to a health worker or counsellor. Have a plan on where to go to and how to seek help for physical and mental health needs if required.
  • Get the facts. Gather information that will help you accurately determine your risk so that you can take reasonable precautions. Find a credible source you can trust such as the WHO website or a local or state public health agency: NHS.