New Delhi: On Monday (May 18), as the day 1 of the fourth phase of lockdown kicked in, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued guidelines on preventive measures that need to be followed in all workplaces to contain the spread of COVID-19. On Sunday, in its new guidelines of lockdown which has been extended till May 31, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has allowed all offices to run at 100 per cent capacity, even though work from home is encouraged to the extent possible.
As per the guidelines, all offices that are reopening should adhere to these basic preventive measures and strictly maintain the coronavirus decorum to further contain the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Basic Preventive Measures That Need To Be Followed:
1. The physical distancing of at least one meter to be followed at all times
2. Use of face covers/masks to be mandatory
3. Practice frequent hand washing (for at least 40-60 seconds) even when hands are not visibly dirty and use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (for at least 20 seconds)
4. Respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed. This involves the strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing off used tissues properly.
5. Self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest
The guidelines further said,
Employees who feel ill or are suffering from flu-like illness are advised to not attend office and seek medical advice from local health authorities. Any staff requesting home quarantine based on the containment zone activities in their residential areas should be permitted to work from home.
What Happens When Someone In The Office Tests Positive For Coronavirus?
According to the guidelines, in case one or a few persons who share a room or a closed space are found to be suffering from symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, the following measures need to be taken immediately –
a. Place the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others at the workplace.
b. Provide a mask/face cover till such time he/she is examined by a doctor.
c. Report to concerned central/state health authorities. Helpline 1075 will be immediately informed.
d. A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority (district RRT/treating physician) and accordingly further advice shall be made regarding the management of a case, his/her contacts and need for disinfection.
e. If the suspect case has very mild/mild symptoms on an assessment by the health authorities would be placed under home isolation
d. The necessary actions for contact tracing and disinfection of the workplace will start once the report of the patient is received as positive. The report will be expedited for this purpose
Closure Of Workplace
The guidelines stated that if there are one or two cases reported from the building then the disinfection procedure will be limited to places/areas visited by the patient in the past 48 hrs. And in that case, there is no need to close the entire office building/halt work in other areas of the office. However, if there is a larger outbreak, the entire building will have to be closed for 48 hours after thorough disinfection. All the staff will work from home, till the building is adequately disinfected and is declared fit for re-occupation.
Disinfection Procedures In Offices
Indoor areas: Indoor office spaces such as conference rooms, cabins should be cleaned every evening after office hours or early in the morning before the rooms are occupied. If the contact surface is visibly dirty, it should be cleaned with soap and water prior to disinfection.
The guidelines also stressed upon the protective gears that all workers should have at a workplace while cleaning such as disposable rubber boots, gloves (heavy-duty), and a triple-layer mask.
Outdoor areas: Outdoor areas have less risk than indoor areas due to air currents and exposure to sunlight. These include bus stops, railway platforms, parks, roads, etc. Cleaning and disinfection efforts should be targeted to frequently touched/contaminated surfaces.
Toilets: Sanitary workers must use a separate set of cleaning equipment for toilets (mops, nylon scrubber) and a separate set for sink and commode. They should always wear disposable protective gloves while cleaning a toilet.