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Steps you need to take to stop spread of Covid at the workplace

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Businesses in Kenya have started turning away unvaccinated individuals. This follows a rallying call from the Ministry of Health that has been advocating for businesses to stop providing services to unvaccinated people in a bid to drive up the number of Covid-19 vaccinations and stem the spread of the viral disease. One of these businesses is the Junction Mall which has started turning unvaccinated customers away.

According to Health Chief Administration Secretary Mercy Mwangangi all organised events, hotels, bars, supermarkets, banks will only admit fully vaccinated citizens to keep infection rates lower, warning that non-compliance will attract withdrawal of operating licence.”If you attend a wedding, funeral, organised party, conference, sports, indoor theatre, dance, liquor tasting room, bar, banking halls, supermarkets, trains, PSVs, all government offices and parastatals, you will be required to show proof of vaccination,” said Mwangangi.

What you need to know about Omicron, symptoms and its spread

Apart from refusing to admit unvaccinated persons, businesses are also mandated to provide working environments that minimize the risk of Covid-19 transmission. According to the World Health Organization, you can reduce transmission of Covid-19 at your workplace by following these guidelines:

  • Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic
  • Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly
  • Why? Because contamination on surfaces touched by employees and customers is one of the main ways that Covid-19 spreads
  • Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers
  • Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace.
  • Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled
  • Display posters promoting hand-washing.
  • Combine this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from occupational health and safety officers, briefings at meetings and information on the intranet to promote hand-washing
  • Make sure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water. Why? Because washing kills the virus on your hands and prevents the spread of Covid.
  • Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace
  • Display posters promoting respiratory hygiene.
  • Combine this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from occupational health and safety officers, briefing at meetings and information on the intranet etc.
  • Ensure that face masks and / or paper tissues are available at your workplaces, for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them. Why? Because good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of Covid-19
  • Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel advice before going on business trips.
  • Brief your employees, contractors and customers that if Covid-19 starts spreading in your community anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3 C or more) needs to stay at home. They should also stay home (or work from home) if they have had to take simple medications, such as paracetamol or acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin, which may mask symptoms of infection
  • Keep communicating and promoting the message that people need to stay at home even if they have just mild symptoms of Covid-19.
  • Display posters with this message in your workplaces. Combine this with other communication channels commonly used in your organization or business.
  • Make clear to employees that they will be able to count this time off as sick leave.

In the event of a physical meeting at the workplace, the World Health Organization recommends as follows:

  • Encourage regular hand-washing or use of an alcohol rub by all participants at the meeting or event
  • Encourage participants to cover their face with the bend of their elbow or a tissue if they cough or sneeze.
  • Supply tissues and closed bins to dispose of them in.
  • Provide contact details or a health hotline number that participants can call for advice or to give information.
  • Display dispensers of alcohol-based hand rub prominently around the venue.
  • If there is space, arrange seats so that participants are at least one meter apart.
  • Open windows and doors whenever possible to make sure the venue is well ventilated.

If anyone starts to feel unwell:

  • Follow your preparedness plan or call your hotline.
  • Depending on the situation in your area, or recent travel of the participant, place the person in the isolation room.
  • Offer the person a mask so they can get home safely, if appropriate, or to a designated assessment facility.

After the physical workplace meeting

  • Retain the names and contact details of all participants for at least one month. This will help public health authorities trace people who may have been exposed to Covid-19 if one or more participants become ill shortly after the event.
  • If someone at the meeting or event was isolated as a suspected Covid-19 case, the organizer should let all participants know this.
  • They should be advised to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days and take their temperature twice a day.
  • If they develop even a mild cough or low-grade fever (i.e. a temperature of 37.3 C or more) they should stay at home and self-isolate. This means avoiding close contact (1 meter or nearer) with other people, including family members.
  • They should also telephone their healthcare provider or the local public health department, giving them details of their recent travel and symptoms.

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