[Covid-19] No need to shut entire office building if 1 or 2 COVID-19 cases found; Health Ministry issues guidelines to contain COVID-19 spread in workplace settings

There is a need to prevent importation of infection in workplace settings and to respond in a timely and effective manner in case suspect case of COVID-19 is detected in these settings, so as to limit the spread of infection.

Basic preventive measures

These measures need to be observed by all (employees and visitors) at all times. These include:

  • Physical distancing of at least one meter to be followed at all times.
  • Use of face covers/masks to be mandatory.
  • 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).
  • Respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed. This involves strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing off used tissues properly.
  • Self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest.

Preventive measures for offices:

Guidelines with respect to preventive measures specific to offices have been issued by DoPT. These guidelines are available at: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/PreventivemeasuresDOPT.pdf.

Any staff reportedly suffering from flu-like illness should not attend office and seek medical advice from local health authorities [e.g. CGHS wellness center, medical attendance under CS (MA) etc.]. Such persons, if diagnosed as a suspect/confirmed case of COVID-19 should immediately inform the office authorities.

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 organizing meetings, coordinating visitors shall be scrupulously followed.

Measures to be taken on occurrence of case(s):

When one or few person(s) who share a room/close office space is/are found to be suffering from symptoms suggestive of COVID-19:

  • Place the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others at the workplace. Provide a mask/face cover till such time he/she is examined by a doctor.
  • Report to concerned central/state health authorities. Helpline 1075 will be immediately informed.
  • A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority (district RRT/treating physician) and accordingly further advice shall be made regarding management of case, his/her contacts and need for disinfection.
  • The suspect case if reporting very mild / mild symptoms on assessment by the health authorities would be placed under home isolation, subject to fulfilment of criteria laid down in MoHFW guidelines (available at: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/RevisedguidelinesforHomeIsolationofverymildpresymptomaticCOVID19cases10May2020.pdf)
  • Suspect case, if assessed by health authorities as moderate to severe, he/she will follow guidelines at: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/FinalGuidanceonMangaementofCovidcasesversion2.pdf.
  • 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 report will be expedited for this purpose.

If there are large numbers of contacts from a pre-symptomatic/asymptomatic case, there could be a possibility of a cluster emerging in workplace setting. Due to the close environment in workplace settings this could even be a large cluster (>15 cases). The essential principles of risk assessment, isolation, and quarantine of contacts, case referral and management will remain the same. However, the scale of arrangements will be higher.

Closure of workplace

If there are one or two cases reported, the disinfection procedure will be limited to places/areas visited by the patient in past 48 hrs. There is no need to close the entire office building/halt work in other areas of the office and work can be resumed after disinfection as per laid down protocol.

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.

Please read the detailed guidelines by following the link given below:

GUIDELINES


Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

[Guidelines dt. 18-05-2020]

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