Of­fices needn’t be shut af­ter a few cases: Govt

GUIDE­LINES Health min­istry asks firms to close build­ings for 48 hours af­ter a large out­break

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - HTSPOTLIGH­T - Rhythma Kaul rhythma.kaul@htlive.com

NEWDELHI: The Union health min­istry on Mon­day is­sued guide­lines on pre­ven­tive mea­sures to con­tain the spread of the coron­avirus disease at work­place, rec­om­mend­ing dis­tanc­ing norms and rules on re­port­ing of in­fec­tions and sani­ti­sa­tion among other things.

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

“Of­fices and other work­places are rel­a­tively close set­ting, with shared spa­ces (like cor­ri­dors, el­e­va­tors, stairs, park­ing places, cafe­te­ria, meet­ing rooms etc.) and thus in­fec­tion can spread rel­a­tively fast. 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,” the gov­ern­ment said.

The guide­lines fo­cus on some key as­pects:


The mea­sures that are to be fol­lowed at all times in­clude main­tain­ing a phys­i­cal dis­tance of at least one me­tre be­tween col­leagues; use of face masks; fre­quent hand-wash­ing; fol­low­ing res­pi­ra­tory eti­quette such as cov­er­ing mouth and nose while cough­ing, sneez­ing with a tis­sue, hand­ker­chief, flexed el­bow, and dis­pos­ing of used tis­sues prop­erly. It is im­por­tant to re­port any ill­ness at the ear­li­est.


There should be ther­mal scan­ners in­stalled at the en­try of the of­fice build­ing, along with manda­tory plac­ing of hand sani­tis­ers. As far as pos­si­ble, the en­try of vis­i­tors in the of­fice com­plex should be dis­cour­aged. Meet­ings, as far as fea­si­ble, should be done through video-con­fer­enc­ing, and ex­change of files and other doc­u­ments should only be done on mail. Gyms, re­cre­ation cen­tres or creches lo­cated within the build­ing should be closed. The of­fice should be cleaned and fre­quently sani­tised. “Any staff re­port­edly suf­fer­ing from flu-like ill­ness should not at­tend of­fice and seek med­i­cal ad­vice from lo­cal health au­thor­i­ties…if di­ag­nosed should im­me­di­ately in­form the of­fice au­thor­i­ties,” the guide­lines said.


The guide­lines said the peo­ple who are ill should be placed in a room or an area where they are iso­lated from oth­ers at the work­place. They should be pro­vided a mask till they are ex­am­ined by a doc­tor. They should then by re­ported to lo­cal health au­thor­i­ties, or on a phone call to helpline 1075. “A risk as­sess­ment will be un­der­taken by the des­ig­nated pub­lic health au­thor­ity and ac­cord­ingly fur­ther ad­vice shall be made re­gard­ing man­age­ment of case, their con­tacts and need for dis­in­fec­tion.” The high-risk ex­po­sure con­tacts will have to be quar­an­tined for 14 days, and lowrisk ex­po­sure con­tacts can con­tinue to work and should mon­i­tor their health for next two weeks.


If there are one or two cases re­ported, the dis­in­fec­tion pro­ce­dure will be limited to places or ar­eas vis­ited by the pa­tient in past 48 hours. “There is no need to close the en­tire of­fice build­ing or halt work in other ar­eas of the of­fice and work can be re­sumed af­ter dis­in­fec­tion as per laid down pro­to­col.” If there is a larger out­break, how­ever, the build­ing will have to be closed for 48 hours af­ter dis­in­fec­tion.

“...there is no need to seal the en­tire build­ing... How­ever, all the floors have to re­main un­der ob­ser­va­tion,” said Dr T Ja­cob John, se­nior vi­rol­o­gist, Chris­tian Med­i­cal Col­lege, Vel­lore.


Gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees at the state sec­re­tariat of­fice in Tamil Nadu on Mon­day.

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