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The Department of Business have updated their guidance for employers and businesses regarding the coronavirus and what to do if someone suspected or confirmed as having COVID-19 has been in the workplace.

What should you do if an employee or member of public become unwell and believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19

If this person has not been to specified areas in the last 14 days, then normal practice should be maintained.

If this person becomes unwell in the workplace and has recently traveled to China or other affected countries, this person should be removed to an area which is at least 2 meters away from other people.If possible, find an isolated room or area, behind a closed door, such as a staff office. If it is possible, open a window for ventilation.

If the individual who is unwell should then call NHS 111 from their mobile, or 999 if an emergency (only if seriously ill, injured or their life is at risk). Whilst on phone to operator explain which country they have returned from in the last 14 days and outline current symptoms.

Whilst awaiting advice or an ambulance, they should remain at least 2 meter away from others. They should also avoid touching people, surfaces, objects and be are advised to cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze with a disposable tissue and put the tissue in a bag or pocket and throw it in the bin. If no tissues are available, it is advised that they cough or sneeze into the crook of their elbow.

If they need to use the bathroom whilst waiting for assistance, they should use a separate bathroom if available.

What to do if a member of staff or the public with suspected COVID-19 has recently been in your workplace

For contacts of a suspected case in the workplace, no restrictions or special control measures are required while laboratory test results for COVID-19 are awaited.

There is no need to close the workplace or send staff home at this point as most possible cases turn out to be negative. Therefore, until the outcome of the test results are known, no action needs to be taken in the workplace.

What to do if a member of staff or the public confirmed with COVID-19 has recently been in your workplace

A workplace closure is not recommended.

The management team in the office/workplace will be contacted by the PHE local Health Protection Team to discuss the issue, identify anyone who has had contact with this person and will advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken.

The Health Protection Team will undertake a risk assessment of each setting with the lead responsible person. Advice on the management of staff and members of the public will be based on this assessment.

They will also be in contact with the case directly to advise on isolation and identifying other contacts and will be in touch with any contacts of the case to provide them with appropriate advice.

Advice on cleaning of communal areas such as toilets and offices will also be given by the Health Protection Team.

When individuals in the workplace have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19

If a confirmed case is identified within the workplace the local Heath Protection Team will provide the relevant staff with advice. These staff include:

  • any employee with close face-to-face or touching contact
  • talking with or being coughed on for any length of time while the employee was sympathetic
  • anyone who has cleaned any bodily fluids
  • close friendship groups or workgroups
  • any employee living in the same house as a confirmed case

Contacts are not considered cases (alongside anyone who is well as they are unlikely to have spread the infection to others).

  • those who have had close contact will be asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact with the confirmed case and follow the home isolation advice sheet
  • they will be actively followed up by the Health Protection Team
  • if new symptoms are developed or their existing symptoms worsen within their 14-day observation period they should call NHS 111 for reassessment
  • if they become unwell with a cough, fever or shortness of breath they will be tested for COVID-19
  • if they are unwell at any time within their 14-day observation period and they test positive for COVID-19 they will become a confirmed case and will be treated for infection

Staff who have not had close contact with the original confirmed case do not need to take any precautions and can continue to attend work.

Handling post, packages or food from affected areas

Employees should continue to follow existing risk assessments and safe systems of work. There is no perceived increase in risk for handling post or freight from specified areas.

Rubbish disposal, including tissues

All waste that has been in contact with the individual, including used tissues, masks (if used) should all be put into a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full. This bag should then be placed in a second bag and tied. Put it in a safe place and marked for storage until the results are available. If the individual is tested negative then this bag can be put into normal waste, should the test be positive, you will be instructed on how to dispose of this waste.

To read further NFRN advice for Coronavirus please Click Here

To read further on the updated report by the Department of Business please Click Here

A helpline for providing Scottish businesses with advice and guidance on the COVID-19 outbreak, call 0300 303 0660 – Monday to Friday, between 8.30am till 5.30pm.

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