THE Ministry of Health and Social Services has compiled guidelines on how to deal with exposure to the novel coronavirus in public areas and at work.

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Transmission of Covid-19

Through droplets when someone speaks, coughs or sneezes;
Close contact such as touching and hand shaking;
Touching surfaces such as doorknobs and tables that are contaminated with the virus; and
Aerosolisation medical procedures, among others.

What to do when a case is suspected or confirmed at a public or workplace

* In the event where a person (whether an employer, employee or visitor) in a public or workplace is suspected or confirmed to be infected with Covid-19, such a person should be isolated immediately in a separate room.

* The Covid-19 Surveillance Team of the Ministry of Health and Social Services must be informed immediately via the toll-free number 0800 100 100.

* Areas where the confirmed or suspected Covid-19 case operated or visited should be closed off immediately. The areas closed off must be vacated immediately and may only be accessed after 24 hours to commence disinfection by trained individuals. Disinfection may include decontamination or deep cleaning of areas most frequented and most likely to be exposed to contamination.

* Doors and windows should be opened to facilitate airflow and ventilation, while ensuring that doing so would not pose a safety risk to other people on the premises.

* The occupational safety and health officer, wellness officer or such other designated person at the affected premises must immediately contact the ministry to be guided on risk stratification of people on the premises as potential contacts.

* People who did not come into close contact with the suspected or confirmed case (as determined by the risk stratification exercise), may access the premises 24 hours after decontamination and disinfection have been completed.

* Advise everyone who has been in close contact with the confirmed Covid-19 case to seek medical advice as soon as possible.

* Everyone who has been in close contact with the suspected or confirmed case must go into mandatory quarantine or self-quarantine, depending on the type of risk, for seven days. Ensure that people at the affected premises receive counselling and health education on precautions to take while in quarantine.

Entry restrictions and closure of premises after exposure

* Entry to a certain place or part thereof may be restricted where there is suspected or confirmed exposure to the novel coronavirus.

* Entry at a place exposed to contamination with Covid-19, or part thereof, will be closed off for 24 hours immediately following exposure.

* Disinfection should commence 24 hours later, after which access to such places may resume.

* It is not necessary to restrict access to the area if the suspected or confirmed case has not accessed the premises during the previous 48 hours.

Disinfection guidelines

* Clean dirty surfaces with soap and clean water before disinfection.

* The person cleaning the premises should wear gloves and gowns appropriate for chemicals when disinfecting.

* Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn in high-risk areas, depending on products used in line with manufacturers’ instructions or material safety data sheets.

* In non-healthcare settings, bleach may be used at a recommended concentration of 0,1%. Alternatively, alcohol with a 70% to 90% concentration may be used for surface disinfection.

* Disinfectant solutions must be prepared and used according to the manufacturers’ recommendations for volume and contact time. Concentrations with inadequate dilution during preparation may reduce their effectiveness.

* Properly dispose the used cleaning materials and used PPE according to standardised guidelines.

Routine cleaning and disinfection recommendations

* Develop a cleaning schedule and cleaning checklist that will be completed by all cleaning staff members when cleaning and disinfecting are done.

* Identify priority areas and frequently disinfect surfaces most touched, such as handrails, lounge chairs, surfaces of restrooms, hand-washing stations, tills, speed points, counter tops, computer keyboards, shopping trolleys, elevators, automatic letter machines and so forth.

Covid-19 preventative measures

* Provide regular educational sessions to staff

* The wearing of masks correctly is mandatory, covering the nose and mouth

* One metre distance required between people

* Hand-washing facilities and sanitisers should be made available at all times

* Always keep a register

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