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Guidance for Workplaces on Preparing for Coronavirus Spread

Due to the spread of coronavirus, the following workplace recommendations have been issued by the Ministry of Development, in cooperation with the Chief Sanitary Inspector.

Instytut Boyma 15.03.2020

It is recommended to:

 

1. Maintain a safe distance when talking to people (1-1.5 metres).

2. Promote regular and thorough hand washing by people in public places: using soap and water or by disinfecting hands with alcohol-based hand rubs (containing at least 60% alcohol).

3. Make sure that employees, customers and contractors have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water.

4. Place disinfectant dispensers in a visible place in the workplace and ensure they are filled regularly.

5. Post information on effective hand washing in a visible place.

6. Combine the above with active communication, such as staff training by occupational health and safety professionals.

7. Emphasise the recommendation NOT to touch one’s own face, especially the mouth, nose and eyes with one’s own hands and to encourage respiratory and cough hygiene. Face masks are NOT recommended for wearing by healthy people, and should be restricted to wearing by infected people, people caring for patients and medical personnel working with patients suspected of coronavirus infection.

8. Make every effort to ensure that workplaces are clean and hygienic:

  • all touch surfaces including desks, counters and tables, door knobs, light
    switches, handrails and other objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) must be
    regularly wiped with disinfectant or water and detergent,
  • all frequently used areas, such as restrooms and common areas, should be
    cleaned regularly and carefully, using water and detergent.

9. Limit business trips, whether domestic or foreign, to a minimum. For sanitary and epidemiological reasons, the Chief Sanitary Inspector recommends that business trips, whether domestic or foreign, be kept to a minimum. According to the National Labour Inspectorate (LINK), an employee may refuse to go on a foreign business trip to a country where there is ongoing SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

10. Promote remote working for people returning from SARS-CoV-2 transmission areas.

  • People returning from areas with SARS-CoV-2 spread (based on a list of countries according to announcements published on www.gis.gov.pl), should remain at home and monitor their health condition for 14 days consecutive immediately after their return (daily temperature measurements, self-checks for flu-like symptoms such as discomfort, muscle pain, coughing).
  • It is recommended that, as far as possible, employers promote work from home for those returning from areas affected by coronavirus.

 

 

Eligibility criteria for further procedures: individuals potentially exposed due to their return from areas with ongoing SARS-CoV-2 transmission or individuals having had close contact with an infected individual

 

Any persons meeting the following clinical and epidemiological criteria must be subject to the procedure:

Clinical criteria
Any person with one or more symptoms of an acute respiratory infection:

  • fever;
  • cough;
  • shortness of breath.

Epidemiological criteria
Any person who, in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms, fulfilled at least one of the following criteria:

  • travelled to or stayed in an area where SARS-CoV-2 is currently spreading;
  • had close contact with an individual known to be, or suspected of being, infected with SARS-CoV-2;
  • worked in or visited a health care unit treating patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection.

An employee who meets the above clinical and epidemiological criteria should:

  • immediately call a sanitary and epidemiological unit (SANEPID) and notify them accordingly, and
  • proceed directly to an infectious disease ward or observation and infection ward, where further medical procedures will be determined.

 

 

Procedures for employees who have had close contact with an infected individual

 

A person is considered to have had close contact with an individual infected with SARS-CoV-2 if they:

  • have been in direct contact with a sick individual or in contact at a distance of less
    than 2 metres for more than 15 minutes;
  • had an extended face-to-face conversation with a person having symptoms of the
    disease;
  • have an infected person among their closest friends or colleagues;
  • have been staying in the same house or sharing a hotel room with an infected person.

Close contacts are NOT considered infected, and if they feel well and have no symptoms of infection, they will not spread the infection to other people, however they are recommended to:

  • remain at home for 14 days after the last contact with an infected person and check themselves for infection symptoms by daily checking their temperature and monitoring their health condition,
  • submit to monitoring by a worker of a sanitary and epidemiological unit, in particular to give their telephone number for daily contact and health interviews,
  • if during 14 days of self-check the following symptoms occur: fever, cough, shortness of breath, breathing problems – immediately call a sanitary and epidemiological unit (SANEPID) to notify them accordingly or proceed directly to an infectious disease ward or observation and infection ward, where further medical procedures will be determined.

People who are not close contacts:

  • do not need to take any precautions or change their own activities, such as going to work, unless they feel unwell.

 

 

Recommendations for cleaning staff

 

Staff who are cleaning rooms or areas used by sick persons are recommended to take additional precautions:

  • wear disposable gloves and a disposable mask covering the nose and mouth,
  • wash and disinfect their hands immediately after the cleaning is finished, and gloves and mask are removed,
  • throw the mask and gloves directly to a waste bag.

 

 

Important!

It is important to observe basic infection prevention rules, which may significantly reduce the risk of infection:

 

1. Wash your hands frequently – please see below for instructions on how to wash your hands properly

  • Remember to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and if this is not possible – disinfect your hands using alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Washing hands as described above effectively eliminates the virus.
  • The virus may remain viable for a short time on surfaces and objects that were contaminated by droplets from secretions coughed or sneezed from a sick person. There is a risk of virus transmission from contaminated surfaces on hands, e.g. by touching your face or rubbing your eyes. Washing your hands frequently therefore reduces the risk of infection.

 

2. Practise good sneeze/cough hygiene

  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or tissue – throw the tissue into a closed waste bin as soon as possible and wash your hands with soap and water or disinfect them using alcohol-based hand rub containing at least 60% alcohol. Covering your mouth and nose during coughing and sneezing prevents the spread of germs, including viruses. If you do not follow this rule, you can easily contaminate objects and surfaces, or the people you touch (e.g. when greeting them).

 

3. Maintain a safe distance

  • Keep a distance of at least 1-1.5 metres from a person who is coughing, sneezing or has a fever.

 

4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

  • Your hands touch many surfaces that may be contaminated with the virus.
    Touching your eyes, nose or mouth with contaminated hands can cause
    transmission of the virus to yourself.

 

5. If you are ill and have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing within 14 days after returning from a country where the coronavirus is spreading, you should seek medical assistance immediately.

  • In such a case you should immediately call a sanitary and epidemiological unit to notify them accordingly (a list of such units is available at: LINK), or proceed directly to an infectious disease ward or observation and infection ward, where further medical procedures will be determined (a list of infectious disease wards is available at: LINK). Avoid using public transport.

 

6. If you are ill and feel very unwell, but you have not travelled to a country where coronavirus is spreading – the risk of the symptoms being caused by coronavirus is low.

  • Symptoms from the respiratory system with accompanying fever may be caused by a number of factors, e.g. viruses (influenza viruses, adenoviruses, rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, parainfluenza viruses), or bacteria (Haemophilus influenzae, pertussis bacteria, chlamydia, mycoplasma).

 

7. If you have mild respiratory symptoms and have not travelled to a country where coronavirus is spreading, you should carefully practice basic respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene, and stay home until you recover, if possible.

 

8. Prevent other infectious diseases through vaccination, e.g. against influenza.

  • Depending on the epidemic season, between several hundred thousand and
    several million cases and suspected cases of influenza and flu-like illnesses
    are annually registered in Poland. The peak incidence usually occurs between
    January and March. Acute viral infections can be conducive to infections with
    other germs, including viruses. However, vaccination against influenza should
    not be considered as a way to prevent coronavirus infections.

 

9. Take good care of your immune system, make sure you get enough sleep, exercise and have a healthy diet. For more information on how to deal with a suspected coronavirus infection, call the National Health Fund (NFZ) helpline 800 190 590.

 

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