As the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread, governments around the world are pooling wisdom to cope with the epidemic.
China is taking all-out action to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, with a clear understanding that all sections of the society -- including businesses and employers -- must play a role to secure a decisive victory in the battle.
Here are some practical tips offered by the Chinese government to facilitate clean workplaces and prevent the in-house spread of the highly-contagious virus. The list of dos and don'ts is still growing.
Q: Is wearing a face mask a must?
-- The answer would almost always be a yes. Whatever the settings involving people gathering, wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to protect you from infection as COVID-19 mainly transmits through inhalable droplets. Disease control experts advise that people should wear face masks through the working day.
What is the exception? Well, you might not need a mask when there are no other people under the same roof.
Q: What employers should do to ward off the virus?
-- One good start point is establishing health files of employees. Tracking their travel records and current health status can be very useful in identifying suspected cases and timely quarantine and treatment if needed. Employers should also adopt flexible office hours and other methods to avoid large gatherings, and put more distance between employees.
Besides, employers should introduce routine sterilization and ventilation in the workplace. Equip your workplace with hand sanitizer and other disinfectants, and provide your employees with face masks -- the must-haves.
Q: How to have safe meetings?
-- First, keep the meeting room well ventilated;
Second, clean and disinfect the surface of the desk, doorknob and the floor before and after the meeting;
Third, reduce and shorten meetings, limit the presence, widen the distance between people and ensure they are masked;
Last but not least, convene online whenever possible.
Q: What to do if an employee or a member of the business is confirmed infected? Is a shutdown necessary?
-- The top priority is to find out the close contacts, put them under quarantine, and seek immediate medical treatment when there is a problem. If the infection has not been detected in an early stage and extensive spread takes place, the organization should undergo certain disease prevention and control measures.
In case of early detection and close contacts passing strict medical observation procedures, an operation shutdown will not be necessary.
Q: Are we supposed to shut down the central air-conditioning?
-- Yes. When there is a local epidemic outbreak, you should not only shut down the central AC but also disinfect the whole workplace thoroughly. Whether or not to have the AC back will then depend on an evaluation of your workplace's exposure and readiness.
Q: How to cope with employee's fear and anxiety over infection?
-- Inform your employees with the facts about COVID-19 prevention and control and encourage them to take proper personal protection. Seek professional psychological consulting services if needed.
Besides, employers should be ready to prevent and curb discrimination against confirmed or suspected cases within the business.