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MOHWE COVID Guidelines for Businesses August 2020

                                     MINISTRY OF HEALTH WELLNESS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
                                             

                                              COVID-19 Guidance For Businesses and Employers
                                                                                  August 9 2020

 

Introduction
In January 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of a new
coronavirus disease in Hubei Province, China to be a Public Health Emergency of International
Concern. Antigua and Barbuda saw its first case of COVID-19 in March 2020.

Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19

WHO and public health authorities around the world are taking action to contain the COVID-19
outbreak. All sections of our society, including businesses and employers, must play a role if we
are to stop the spread of this disease. This document outlines simple ways to prevent the spread
of the virus, things to consider when employees travel, and how to have your business operate
safely during a COVID-19 outbreak.

How COVID-19 spreads
When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid.
Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones.
People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching
their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they
can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them.

Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover. However, some
go on to experience more serious illness and may require hospital care. Risk of serious illness
rises with age: people over 40 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40. People with
weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease
are also more vulnerable to serious illness.

Simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace

The low-cost measures below will help prevent the spread of infections in your workplace and
protect your customers, contractors and employees.

You can reduce working days lost due to illness and stop or slow the spread of COVID-19 if it
arrives at one of your workplaces.

• Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic
o Avoid unnecessary touching of surfaces and areas.

                 o Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to
be wiped with disinfectants regularly because contaminated surfaces touched by
employees and customers is one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads.

• Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers.

o Ensure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can
wash their hands with soap and running water because proper hand-washing kills
the virus on your hands and prevents the spread of COVID-19.

               o Place sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace.
Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled.

               o Display posters promoting and demonstrating hand-washing should be
conspicuously placed in areas designated for hand-washing.

               o Combine this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from
occupational health and safety officers, briefings at meetings and information on
the internet to promote hand-washing.

              o Dry hands thoroughly with single-use paper towels or napkins and then properly
dispose of them in a covered bin.

              o Hands can also be dried using hot air if such machines are available.

• Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace because good respiratory hygiene
prevents the spread of COVID-19

           o Display posters promoting respiratory hygiene. Combine this with other
communication measures such as offering guidance from occupational health and
safety officers, briefing at meetings and information on the intranet etc.

o Ensure that paper tissues are available at your workplaces, for those who develop
a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing
of them.
o Ensure that all workers, contractors and customers wear face masks at all times.

• Ensure that there is enough space for social and physical distancing for all workers,
contractors and customers.

• Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel advisories before going on
business trips and vacations.

Things to consider when you and your employees travel
• Before traveling

                o Make sure your organization and its employees have the latest information on

                    areas where COVID-19 is spreading. You can find this at
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situationreports/.

                o Based on the latest information, your organization should assess the benefits and
risks related to upcoming travel plans.

                o Avoid sending employees who may be at higher risk of serious illness (e.g. older
employees and those with medical conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung
disease) to areas where COVID-19 is spreading.

                o Make sure all persons travelling to locations reporting COVID-19 are briefed by a
qualified professional (e.g. staff health services, health care provider or the
Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment)

               o Consider issuing employees who are about to travel with small bottles (under 100
CL) of alcohol-based hand rub.

• While traveling:
o Encourage employees to wash their hands regularly and stay at least one meter
away from people who are coughing or sneezing

             o Ensure employees know what to do and who to contact if they feel ill while
traveling.

             o Ensure that your employees comply with instructions from local authorities where
they are traveling. If, for example, they are told by local authorities not to go
somewhere they should comply with this. Your employees should comply with
any local restrictions on travel, movement or large gatherings.

• When you or your employees return from traveling:

            o Employees who have returned from an area where COVID-19 is spreading should
monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days and take their temperature twice a
day.

            o If they develop even a mild cough or low grade fever (i.e. a temperature of 37.3 C
or more) they should stay at home and self-isolate. This means avoiding close
contact (one meter or nearer) with other people, including family members. They
should also telephone their healthcare provider or the Ministry of Health Wellness
and the Environment, giving us details of their recent travel and symptoms.

• Implement a plan of what to do if someone becomes ill with suspected COVID-19 at one
of your workplaces.

              o The plan should cover putting the ill person in a room or area where they are
isolated from others in the workplace, limiting the number of people who have
contact with the sick person and contacting a health care provider, the Ministry of
Health Wellness and the Environment or the Emergency Medical Services.

             o Consider how to identify persons who may be at risk, and support them, without
inviting stigma and discrimination into your workplace. This could include
persons who have recently travelled to an area reporting cases, or other personnel
who have conditions that put them at higher risk of serious illness (e.g. diabetes,
heart and lung disease, older age).

• Consider promoting regular teleworking across your organization. Teleworking will help
your business keep operating while your employees stay safe.

• Develop a contingency and business continuity plan for an outbreak in the communities
where your business operates.

             o The plan will help prepare your organization for the possibility of an outbreak of
COVID19 in its workplaces or community. It may also be valid for other health
emergencies.

            o The plan should address how to keep your business running even if a significant
number of employees, contractors and suppliers cannot come to your place of
business – either due to local restrictions on travel or because they are ill.

            o Communicate to your employees and contractors about the plan and make sure
they are aware of what they need to do – or not do – under the plan. Emphasize
key points such as the importance of staying away from work even if they have
only mild symptoms or have had to take simple medications (e.g. paracetamol,
ibuprofen) which may mask the symptoms.

             o Be sure your plan addresses the mental health and social consequences of a case
of COVID-19 in the workplace or in the community and offer information and
support.

             o For small and medium-sized businesses without in-house staff health and welfare
support, develop partnerships and plans with your local health and social service
providers in advance of any emergency.

Remember:
Simple precautions and planning can make a big difference in managing COVID-19 in
your business. Action now will help protect your employees and your business.