Preventing COVID-19 At the Workplace
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. WHO stated there is a high risk of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreading to other countries around the world. On 27th February 2020 Nigeria confirms the first case of CONVID- 19 in Lagos state from an Italian that flew into Nigeria on 25th February 2020.
The World Health Organisation, Federal Government of Nigeria and the Lagos state Government are taking action to prevent COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria. All sections of our society – including businesses and employers – must play a role if we are to stop the spread of this disease.
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 1 or 2 meters of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to flu. 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. The risk of serious illness rises with age: people over 50 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 50. 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, such as colds, flu, and stomach bugs, and protect your customers, contractors and employees.
Employers should start doing these things now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate.
- Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic
- Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be with disinfectant regularly
- Promote regular and thorough handwashing by employees, contractors and customers
- Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled
- Make sure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water. This is Because washing kills the virus on your hands and prevents the spread of COVID-19
- Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace. Ensure that face masks and / or 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. This is because good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of COVID-19
Things to consider when you and your employees travel
- Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel advice before going on business trips.
- Brief your employees, contractors and customers that if COVID-19 starts spreading in your community anyone with even a mild cough or low grade fever (37.30 C or more) needs to stay at home. They should also stay home (or work from home)
- Keep communicating and promoting the message that people need to stay at home even if they have just mild symptoms of COVID-19.
- Display posters with this message in your workplaces. Combine this with other communication channels commonly used in your organization or business.
- 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/situation-reports/
- Based on the latest information, your organization should assess the benefits and risks related to upcoming travel plans.
- 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.
- 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 local public health partner)
- Consider issuing employees who are about to travel with small bottles (under 100 CL) of alcohol-based hand rub. This can facilitate regular hand-washing.
- Encourage employees to wash their hands regularly and stay at least one meter away from people who are coughing or sneezing
- Ensure employees know what to do and who to contact if they feel ill while traveling.
- 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 it.
When you or your employees return from traveling:
- 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.
- 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 (1 meter or nearer) with other people, including family members. They should also telephone their healthcare provider or the local public health department, giving them details of their recent travels and symptoms
- Promote regular teleworking across your organization. If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community the health authorities may advise people to avoid public transport and crowded places. Teleworking will help your business keep operating while your employees stay safe.
To get accurate information about COVID -19 in Nigeria, contact the following numbers:
You can also follow these websites and social media platforms:
How to Observe Self-Quarantine
The recent outbreak of Corona-virus has caused panicking globally, as its spread so fast with 27 countries and over 17,000 people affected as at today (Feb3,2020).
Corona-virus has been described as a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
Recently, a new strain of corona-virus was identified in human with first discovery in Wuhan, China; the disease has been reported to have spread from animals such as Snakes, Bats etc to humans
Associated Symptoms with corona-virus include: respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
In a way to limit the spread of corona-virus to areas not affected such as Africa, many procedures have been put in place especially with respect to movement of people in and out of their countries.
Self-quarantine is one of the procedures to check people moving from affected countries to unaffected countries.
Quarantine is simply a public health strategy used to separate and isolate individuals who may have been exposed to communicable disease(s).
The Novel corona-virus (nCoV) infection has an incubation period of 5 to 14 days; which means anyone affected will become unwell after a period of 5 to 14days.
Here are the procedures:
- Restrict your Movement: This means during this period, you are to stay at home, avoid going to your workplace, minimize contact with family members, no contact with visitors as well as not attend any activities outside your home.
- Self-monitoring and reporting: During this period, you must diligently monitor yourself for some vital symptoms and contact accredited government agencies such as Ministries of Health across various states in Nigeria.
Symptoms to look out for but not limited to include:
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Breathing difficulties
For people living in Lagos, Nigeria- Lagos Ministry of Health has released number to contact
08023169485, 08033565529, 08052817243
Preventing COVID-19 in our Schools
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel virus, and we are learning more about it every day. There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. At this point, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes it. Stopping transmission (spread) of the virus through everyday practices is the best way to keep people healthy.
Prevent Illness through Good Hygiene Practices
The best way to prevent illness is to practice excellent personal hygiene habits. Take simple steps to reduce your risk of getting and spreading viral respiratory infections like the flu, common cold, and COVID-19.
- Promote regular and thorough hand washing by staffs and students
- Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in classes and other prominent places in the school, especially the toilet. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled
- Make sure that staffs and students have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water.
Monitor and plan for Absenteeism
- Review the usual absenteeism patterns at your school among both students and staff
- Alert local health officials about large increases in student and staff absenteeism, particularly if absences appear due to respiratory illnesses (like the common cold or the “flu,” which have symptoms similar to symptoms of COVID-19).
- Encourage students and staff to stay home when sick.
- Discourage the use of perfect attendance awards and incentives
Perform Routine Environmental Cleaning
- Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, light switches, countertops) with disinfectants
- Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (e.g., keyboards, desks, remote controls) can be wiped down by students and staff before each use
Create Communications Plans for use with the School
- Create strategies for sharing accurate and times information with staffs, students and parents
- Include information about steps being taken by the school to prepare.
GET POLICY BRIEF SERIES:
Coronaviruses from Bats in Laikipia County, Kenya and their Implications on Human and Animal Health
There is a global rise in outbreaks of coronavirus infections resulting in high morbidity and mortality rates among humans and animals.
Bats that are widely distributed, have the capability of flight and are the second largest group of mammalian species are natural reservoirs of these viruses. Coronaviruses bare viruses that typically affect the respiratory tract and gut of mammals and birds, causing important diseases.
In animals, these viruses include the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) and porcine delta-coronavirus (PDCoV) in pigs and infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) and turkey coronavirus in poultry.
In humans, coronaviruses causing diseases include the common cold virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS- CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
SARS was linked to marketplace Himalayan palm civets (Paguma larvata), bats1 and raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) while MERS originated in bats.2 Both SARS and MERS showed similar clinical symptoms such as cough, dyspnea and pneumonia but advanced cases of MERS appear with clinical renal failure.
Outbreaks of coronaviruses spread like wild bush-fire affecting people from different nationalities and color. It is important to understand the origin of coronaviruses infecting humans and animals, for purposes of prediction and prevention of pandemic emergence in the future.
ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF CORONAVIRUSES OUTBREAKS
Containing epidemics from coronaviruses spillover from bats can be very expensive due to the high morbidity and mortality rates. The occurrence of porcine epidemic diarrhea in 2013 in the United States resulted in a mortality rate of about 100% in affected piglets4 and approximately 10% of America’s pig population was lost in just a year with an estimated net annual decrease for U.S. economic welfare from $900 million to $1.8 billion Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) infected 8,000 people from different continents of the world regardless of color and race with a mortality rate of 10%. In addition to the impact of SARS-CoV on infected individuals and the global community, the economic cost of the SARS- CoV outbreak event was estimated at $16 billion. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
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A one-day workshop was organized by GET Consortium on Wednesday, 11th March, 2020. The event was well attended by Health Personnel from various Health Institutions and members of prominent Associations in Oyo State.
Appreciation to our seasoned and experienced Speakers- Dr. Jide Idris, Former Commissioner for Health, Lagos State and Dr. Bamidele Mutiu, a Consultant Microbiologist, Director Lagos Biobank.
The following Health Institutions were fully represented by their Directors and Staff
-Ministry of Health, Oyo State.
-University Health Service, Jaja Clinic, University of Ibadan
-School of Nursing Eleyele Ibadan
-Koladaisi University Clinic, Ibadan
-Lead City Hospital, Ibadan
-HQ 2 Division Nigerian Army Hospital, Ibadan
-Police Clinic Eleyele Ibadan
-Federal School of Statistics Clinic, Ibadan
-School of Nursing University College Hospital, Ibadan
-Department of Nursing, University of Ibadan
-The Polytechnic of Ibadan Clinic
The following Associations were fully represented by their Chairmen and Members
–Nigerian Bar Association, Oyo Chapter
-Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Ibadan
-Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association, Ibadan
The following Media Organizations covered the Workshop
–Space FM, Ibadan
-Lagelu FM, Ibadan
Below are Pictures from the Workshop
GET Sensitization Materials for COVID-19
Introduction: The “Unholy Trinity” afflicting Africa (Ian – Kenya)
1. Importance of Networking for Small Businesses (Royden – Eswatini and Zizipho – Cape Town RSA)
2. Building Collaborative Networks (Adaora – Nigeria)
3. The “Low Touch World” (Dr Dotun – GET Consortium Nigeria)
4. Tools and techniques (Nicolas – South Africa)
5. eWorking across Borders (Francis – Kenya)
6. A Mind-Set for successful Networking (Tiisetso – RSA)
7. Questions and Answer
Fostering Solidarity in Risk Communication during COVID-19
by Dr Tom Rausch
YouTube Links to COVID-19 Webinars organized by GET