What Is Coronavirus And What Employers Should Do About It
Ever since December of 2019, we have seen the world's media constantly bombard with reports and articles about a rapidly spreading disease across the globe and terrorizing people. This deadly disease, named the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by the World Health Organization, is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS Coronavirus 2).
The first cases of COVID-19 were detected in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, and immediately drew interest from the rest of the world. But what no one expected was the fast and rapid spread of the virus in other parts of the globe.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause various illnesses ranging from cold and cough to pneumonia and other severe diseases.
The type of coronavirus responsible for this current epidemic was only discovered in December 2019. Two other previously discovered types are Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
The novel Coronavirus that caused the first COVID-19 cases is thought to have originated from a seafood market in Wuhan.
Now, COVID-19 has spread to more than 60 countries, including South Korea, Thailand, India, Singapore, Japan, the United States, and the UK. Nearly 100,000 people have been infected until now, and the deadly disease has killed approximately 3,400 people.
The coronavirus spreads from person to person via respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs or sneezes. After transmission, it has an incubation period of around 2 to 14 days before symptoms start manifesting. However, we must note that people become highly infectious during this incubation period.
Some signs and symptoms of the COVID-19 are -
- Shortness of breath
- Nasal congestion
- Muscle or joint pain
- Sputum production
- Nausea or vomiting
Recognizing the threat and taking preventive measures
The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Accordingly, world governments have started imposing quarantines and taking preventive measures to stop the outbreak.
As more and more people are getting tested and cases are being confirmed, the death rates are seemingly decreasing. Proper awareness and knowledge of COVID-19 and its symptoms are crucial for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Similarly, employers worldwide also need to plan and adopt appropriate measures to make sure that their employees and their workplaces are protected and safe from the deadly virus.
If you are an employer, here are some steps you must take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among your employees -
Encourage sick employees to stay home
- Discourage sick employees to come to work and allow them to stay home till symptoms disappear entirely.
- Encourage your employees to inform you immediately if they feel ill and develop any of the symptoms of the disease.
- Revise your organization’s sick leave policies according to the graveness of the situation. Provide flexibility so that your employees can take the required time to get treatment or maybe care for an infected family member.
- If any employee displays any sign or symptoms of COVID-19 at work, separate them from the rest of the workforce and send them home immediately.
- Provide remote working facilities to employees who are sick.
Emphasize proper hand hygiene
- Encourage proper and regular hand-washing among your employees. Instruct your employees to clean their hands upon arrival to work, after touching dirty, etc.
- Provide appropriate alcohol-based sanitizers and soaps in the workplace. Place them in and around the workplace, making them easily accessible for employees. Also, make sure to maintain ample supplies of the same.
- Place demonstrative posters and signs on walls to remind and encourage employees to maintain proper hand hygiene.
Emphasize proper respiratory etiquette
- Educate your employees on correct respiratory etiquette and encourage them to practice the same when sneezing or coughing.
- Encourage employees to cover their mouths when sneezing or coughing, preferably with a tissue, and wash their hands afterward.
Educate your employees on precautionary measures
- Encourage your employees to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Encourage employees to use masks whenever they use public transport or visit public places.
- DIscourage travel to other countries, especially to countries where the virus has already spread. If employees absolutely must travel to infected areas, encourage them to check the CDC and WHO websites for appropriate travel advice and tips.
- Discourage the eating of raw or undercooked animal products. Also, employees should avoid contact with stray animals in areas of reported COVID-19 cases.
- Encourage your employees to visit a doctor immediately if they feel sick or experience any coronavirus disease symptoms.
Re-consider work-related travel to other countries
- Check with the CDC traveler’s health notices and determine which work-related travel should be postponed or canceled.
- Limit and restrict work-related travel to areas where the coronavirus is most prevalent. Ban all travel to China, unless necessary.
- Be sensitive to and accommodate employees’ objections or concerns to travel to other countries. Do not request certain employees, such as pregnant women and older people, to travel.
- Before traveling, ensure that employees get specific treatment for any kind of acute respiratory symptom that might manifest.
- If an employee falls ill while on travel to another country, he or she must notify you and consult a medical professional in that country immediately.
Maintain a clean work environment
- Ensure that your workplace is cleaned and disinfected with appropriate cleaning agents on a routine basis.
- Encourage employees to clean their workstations regularly. Frequently touched surfaces such as mouses and keyboards must be cleaned daily.
- Provide tissues and wipes to your employees so that they can use them whenever necessary.
Summing It Up
The outbreak of coronavirus around the world has created a wake-up call for employers to take steps to prevent it from affecting their employees' health and their business. Instead of panicking in these dire circumstances, employers should develop a proper response strategy for the outbreak. Proper planning and execution by employers are crucial and invaluable to helping employers tackle these problematic times.
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