There is no need to close the entire office building or halt work in other areas of the office, if there are one or two cases of COVID-19 reported, the Health Ministry said today. The work can be resumed after disinfection as per laid down protocol.
As the Central government has given some relaxation as the country enters lockdown 4.0 that offices can run its work with limited staff, the Central Health Ministry has chalked out full-fledged guidelines on preventive measures to contain the spread of coronavirus infection in a workplace setting.
"If there are one or two COVID cases reported, the disinfection procedure will be limited to places and areas visited by the patient in the past 48 hours. There is no need to close the entire office building/halt work in other areas of the office and work can be resumed after disinfection as per laid down protocol," read the government document by the Health Ministry.
"However, if there is a larger outbreak, the entire building will have to be closed for 48 hours after thorough disinfection. All the staff will work from home, till the building is adequately disinfected and is declared fit for re-occupation," guidelines stated.
Informing about the preventive measures for offices, the Health Ministry said that the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) guidelines with respect to organising meetings and coordinating visitors shall be scrupulously followed.
"Any staff reportedly suffering from a flu-like illness should not attend office and seek medical advice from local health authorities. Such persons, if diagnosed as a suspect/confirmed case of COVID-19 should immediately inform the office authorities. Any staff requesting home quarantine based on the containment zone activities in their residential areas should be permitted to work from home," it added.
When one or few persons who share a close office space are found to be suffering from symptoms of COVID-19, the ill person shall be immediately placed in a room or area where they are isolated from others at the workplace. The person should be provided with a mask or face cover until he or she is examined by a doctor and report to concerned government health authorities.
"If there are large numbers of contacts from a pre-symptomatic/asymptomatic case, there could be a possibility of a cluster emerging in a workplace setting. Due to the close environment in workplace settings, this could even be a large cluster (>15 cases)," the document said further.
According to the Health Ministry, offices and other workplaces are relatively close setting, with shared spaces like (corridors, elevators and stairs, parking places, cafeteria, meeting rooms and conference halls etc.) and thus COVID-19 infection can spread relatively fast among officials, staffs and visitors.
"Thus there is a need to prevent importation of infection in workplace settings and to respond in a timely and effective manner in case suspect case of COVID-19 is detected in these settings, so as to limit the spread of infection," it said.