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Staff with flu-like illness not to attend office

Panaji: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued revised guidelines on preventive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 at workplace.

The guidelines, apart from detailing on the preventive measures, provides clear instructions to companies on measures to be taken when an employee shows symptoms or tests positive for Covid-19.

As per the guidelines, when one or two employees are found positive, the disinfection procedure will be limited to the place/areas visited by the employee in the preceding 48 hours. There is no requirement to close down the entire office building or halt work in other areas of the office.

If there is a larger outbreak, the entire building is to be closed for 48 hours, after thorough disinfection.

In case one or more employees show symptoms, they are to be isolated within the workplace and the state/central authorities be informed so as to conduct risk assessment. Further steps on managing the ill employee, his/her contacts and disinfection are to be undertaken once the report of the patient is received as positive.

The guidelines say that the essential principles of risk assessment, isolation, and quarantine of contacts, case referral and management will remain the same in case of large outbreak at workplace. However, the scale of arrangements will be higher.

It states that any staff reportedly suffering from a flu-like illness should not attend office and seek medical advice from local health authorities. Such persons, if diagnosed as a suspect or confirmed case of Covid-19 should immediately inform office authorities, it said.

“Any staff requesting home quarantine based on the containment zone activities in their residential areas should be permitted to work from home. DoPT guidelines with respect to organising meetings, coordinating visitors shall be scrupulously followed,” the guidelines state.

The document also lists the measures to be taken on occurrence of symptoms among employees at workplace that says that the ill person should be placed in a room or area where they are isolated from others at the workplace till such time he/she is examined by a doctor. Also report to concerned state health authority to conduct risk assessment and advice regarding management of case.

The suspect case if reporting very mild / mild symptoms on assessment by the health authorities would be placed under home isolation, subject to fulfillment of criteria laid down in MoHFW guidelines. 

The rapid response team of the concerned district shall be requisitioned and will undertake the listing of contacts. The necessary actions for contact tracing and disinfection of work place will start once the report of the patient is received as positive.

The basic preventive measures include simple public health measures that are to be followed at offices to reduce the risk of infection with COVID-19. These measures need to be observed by all (employees and visitors) at all times. 

It includes physical distancing of at least one metre to be followed at all times, use of face covers/masks, respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed. Also, one has to practice frequent hand washing (for at least 40-60 seconds) even when hands are not visibly dirty. Self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest.

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