The coronavirus (COVID-19) is no longer news. From Asia to the Americas, down to Europe and Africa, one moment of infection, disease and fear seems to define our connectedness and collective fear. The stock market and the global economy are all in a panic mode. But before we go to far, how does this affect your health and safety? What can you do?
In Nigeria, the Ministry of Health has outlined a few steps you need to take within:
- Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Maintain at least 1-5 meters(5 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing
- Persons with persistent cough or sneezing should stay home or keep a social distance, but not mix in the crowd
- Make sure you and people around you follow good respiratory hygiene, meaning, cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief or tissue or into your sleeve at the bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
- Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19 through official channels on TV and Radio, including the Lagos State Ministry of Health, NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health
HSEs and management can further make the workplace safer in this period by enforcing more strict hygiene habits for all staff members and workmen. For preventive purposes and in addition to the directives from the Ministry of Health, managements should endeavour to provide hand sanitizers, soaps, and disinfectants at the offices and workplaces. As a matter of policy, you might want to insist that:
- Staff members make use of the hand sanitizers and soaps provided
- Cleaners are to be mandated to religiously make use of disinfectants in cleaning delicate sections of the office, including restrooms, door handles and spots that are easily handled
- Staff members could be advised to refrain from frequently touching or rubbing their faces because the virus could move from the hand into the body through the nose, mouth or eyes
- Staff members are to be encouraged to replicate these safety precautions at home
- Where and when a staff member notices that he/she is experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, the staff member should be mandated to take the following steps
- Speak with his/her line supervisor immediately
- Contact the hospital or CDC immediately
- Refrain from coming to work while testing and verification is ongoing at the hospital
- While at home, the sick staff should be encouraged to self-quarantine and isolate himself/herself from family until a positive certification is given by a reputable healthcare provider
- Keep his/her line supervisor in the know of the developments at the hospital, as much as possible
- Where certified healthy, send the doctor’s report to his/her supervisor for appropriate decisions
While the fire rages, we can adopt these steps to stay healthy. And what next? Hope for the best.