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Entire office needn't be shut if 1 or 2 Covid-19 cases are reported: Govt

However, if there is a larger outbreak, the entire building will have to be closed for 48 hours

Coronavirus | Office | Lockdown

Press Trust of India 

office, coronavirus, health workers, disinfectant, workplace
The rapid response team of the district concerned shall be requisitioned and will undertake the listing of contacts

The entire building need not be closed if one or two cases of Covid-19 are reported there and work can resume after it is disinfected as per protocol, the Union said on Monday.

However, if there is a larger outbreak, the entire building will have to be closed for 48 hours. All staff will work from home till the building is adequately disinfected and is declared fit for re-occupation, it said in the guidelines on preventive measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 in settings.

The document outlines the preventive and response measures to be observed to contain the spread of Covid-19 in settings. It stated that any staff reportedly suffering from a flu-like illness should not attend and seek medical advice from local health authorities. Such persons, if diagnosed as a suspect or confirmed case of Covid-19 should immediately inform authorities, it said.

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“Any staff requesting home quarantine based on the containment zone activities in their residential areas should be permitted to work from home. DoPT guidelines with respect to organising meetings, coordinating visitors shall be scrupulously followed,” the guidelines stated.

The high-risk exposure contacts will be quarantined for 14 days and they will follow the guidelines on home quarantine and undergo testing as per ICMR protocol while low-risk exposure contacts shall continue to work and closely monitor their health for next 14 days, the ministry stated in the guidelines.

It stated that since offices and other workplaces are relatively close setting with shared spaces like corridors, elevators and stairs, cafeteria, meeting rooms and conference halls, infection can spread relatively fast among officials, staff and visitors.

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"Thus there is a need to prevent importation of infection in settings and to respond in a timely and effective manner in case a suspect case of Covid-19 is detected in these settings so as to limit the spread of infection,” the ministry said in the document. The basic preventive measures include maintaining physical distancing of at least one meter, mandatory use of face covers or masks, practising frequent hand-washing for at least 40-60 seconds even when hands are not visibly dirty and use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Respiratory etiquettes such as covering mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing with a tissue, handkerchief or flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues properly should be strictly followed besides self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest, the guidelines state. As for offices, guidelines with respect to preventive measures specific to offices issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) should be followed, it said.

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The ministry, however, stated that, despite taking the measures, occurrence Covid-19 infection among the employees working in the office cannot be ruled out.

"If there one or two cases are reported, disinfection procedure will be limited to places/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," the guidelines noted.

When one or a few persons who share a room or close office space are found to be suffering from symptoms suggestive of Covid-19, the ill person should be placed in a room or area where they are isolated from others at the workplace and should be provided a mask or face cover till such time he/she is examined by a doctor.

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Central or state health authorities concerned should be reported about such cases and a risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority, and accordingly, further advice shall be made regarding the management of a case, his/her contacts and need for disinfection, the guidelines stated.

If a suspected case reports very mild or mild symptoms on an assessment by the health authorities, the person would be placed in home isolation, subject to fulfilment of criteria laid down in Health ministry, it stated.

First Published: Mon, May 18 2020. 22:40 IST