What can I do about COVID-19?

My name is Gordon Doig and I am an epidemiologist who has worked in critical care for more than 20 years. I live in Sydney, NSW, Australia. Like you, I have tried to keep up to date on the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) that started in Wuhan, China. Because I don't see a lot of truly useful information coming from the mainstream media, I have been going directly to credible sources like the World Health Organisation. The purpose of this page is to describe in plain language what the WHO recommends and to provide links to WHO content so you can understand exactly what they are saying.

Interactive graphs: World HotSpots, US HotSpots and World Map

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How can I protect myself at Work

Here is a guide for your employer from the WHO that outlines how your employer can help keep your workplace safe. Please read the complete document. Below is a brief summary.

Employers should start doing these things now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate. These measures can reduce working days lost due to illness and help avoid the need for additional business closures and lockdown.

  • If an employee has any symptoms or signs of COVID-19, even if they are only mild, they should not go into work.

    • Employees should be allowed to politely ask customers who are coughing to return another day, when they are feeling well.

  • Allow regular teleworking whenever possible.

    • This includes allowing work from home and replacing business/staff meetings with teleconferencing or video conferencing.

    • If teleconferencing is not possible, meetings may be held outside instead of in crowded meeting rooms.

  • Alter the workplace to allow social distancing (1m to 1.5m) between all employees and between employees and customers.

  • Avoid shaking hands, hugging or kissing anyone on greeting.

  • Allow open windows and doors, if possible, to make sure the workplace is well ventilated.

  • Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace.

  • Display posters promoting hand-washing and hand gel use around the workplace.

    • This is the best handwashing poster that I can find. It clearly shows how to turn off the tap using a paper towel to protect your hands from re-infection!

Note:The current poster from NSW Health does not explicitly show how to use a paper towel to turn off the tap. It needs to be corrected.

    • Some more posters from the WHO on hand washing:

  • Your employer should ensure that face masks and / or paper tissues are available at your workplaces for those who develop a runny nose or start coughing at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them. WHO recommends surgical face masks rather than 'N95' face masks.

    • Ideally, any employees who are coughing should take sick leave.

    • Customers who are coughing should be asked to return another day when they are feeling well.

  • Display posters promoting respiratory hygiene.

    • Some posters from the WHO on respiratory hygiene:

  • Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel advice before going on business trips.

  • Your workplace should develop a plan of what to do if someone becomes ill with suspected COVID-19 at one of your workplaces.

  • Here is a resource kit for businesses from Safe Work Australia.

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    Any questions or comments please contact Gordon.Doig@EvidenceBased.net
    Page last modified on Friday 8 May 2020.