With flu season in full gear, now is the time to revisit company policies on dealing with infectious diseases such as the coronavirus and influenza. There are not enough available vaccines to cover some of the more potent strains of influenza, which are taking a deadly toll on vulnerable areas of the population – including young children and the elderly. The viral outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which is spreading like wildfire, is not helping matters.
Experts are still coming to grips with the coronavirus and have little clue on how to contain the outbreak. At the time of this article’s writing, almost 80,000 cases have already emerged, with 2,700+ deaths and counting.
This two-pronged attack by some of the deadliest viruses in the world has created a frenzy in the workplace. It is important to roll out company-wide policies and security measures to defend against both the coronavirus and influenza.
Be Clear and Communicate with Employees
Set up a meeting with HR to discuss policies around sick time and family leave to advise employees on exactly when they should call in sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a few outlines for businesses when it comes to the dangers of communicable illnesses, including coronavirus.
Review these here and make sure to align them with our company policies. It is highly recommended to present these policies to your employees so they can voice their concerns and offer suggestions, where possible.
Creating a Policy Around Coronavirus and Influenza
When it comes to transmittable illnesses, employers have certain responsibilities, including creating an effective communicable illness policy at the workplace. Make sure to train your employees around the policy – it serves as the company’s emergency plan in the event of future outbreaks. This policy is a great way to inform your staff that leadership is doing all it can to ensure the wellness of its employees.
Being Careful While Traveling
It is recommended to stop traveling to China for work-related reasons, especially to the province of Wuhan, until the outbreak is contained. On Jan. 30, the U.S. Department of State updated its travel warning about China, indicating “the rapidly spreading outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Travelers should be prepared for the possibility of travel restrictions with little or no advance notice. Most commercial air carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China.”
What You Need to Know About Coronavirus
According to the CDC, it may take anywhere from two (2) days to two (2) weeks for symptoms to appear. As with other communicable illness – employers should encourage employees to implement the following best practices at work, which include:
The main symptoms of Coronavirus are as follows:
The coronavirus spreads from person-to-person and can survive on inanimate surfaces for at least nine (9) days at room temperature. Some coronaviruses have been known to survive for 28 days or more. This means the only realistic infection control measure against coronavirus is to install hand washing stations. Consider installing multiple handwashing stations at strategic locations in your workplace.
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