With an increasing number of coronavirus cases being reported, it’s important you take precautions to keep yourself healthy and safe. We’ve provided some guidelines on simple practices you can implement into your day-to-day life.
Originating from a meat market in Wuhan, China, novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, starts with ordinary flu symptoms that can progress to a pneumonia-like condition and has already resulted in recorded deaths. Coronavirus is transmitted through droplets of saliva from coughing or sneezing, or from the contaminated hands of a person who is sick with the illness.
Since the beginning of the year the virus has spread to other parts of China, and the world including South-east Asian countries (Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan), the United States and Australia, who are also recording a mounting number of confirmed cases.
Due to our trade relationships with China, and the popularity of Australia as a destination for Chinese tourists, Australians are particularly at risk.
Tips for staying safe
Corporate Wellbeing Specialist Dr Debra Villar (Chiropractor), from Gallagher’s Benefits & HR division in Australia, strongly concurs with Department of Health advice that anyone experiencing fever, cough or sore throat should see their doctor immediately. You should avoid people exhibiting these symptoms, and implement the following actions:
- Avoid areas with large groups of people
- Suspend travel to the affected areas
- Practice good hygiene such as washing your hands for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid contact with anyone with the flu
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow
- Stay healthy in general by eating well, exercising and decreasing your stress levels so your immune system function is at its maximum potential.
Check your workplace practices
The current health advice from Australian government departments are that the risk of infection is low. However, you may like to check if your business has a contingency plan in place to protect its people. This could include actions such as:
- Flexible working arrangements to enable employees to work from home to prevent the spread of the virus in the workplace or in the community.
- Policies on fitness for work, leave and possible quarantining of employees. This could include formalising processes for requiring employees to remain off work if they have been affected by the virus or have travelled to virus-affected areas.
- Travel rule updates and arrangements for travel to coronavirus-affected areas, and limiting non-essential business travel.
- Workplace hygiene arrangements and cleaning protocols. Does your organisation communicate good hygiene protocols with employees including “cough and sneeze etiquette”?
- Mental health and wellbeing initiatives for employees who may be concerned about coronavirus. This could include access to employee assistance programs.
Stay alert for updates
Authorities and public health organisations are taking steps to manage the spread of the disease, and the Department of Health has posted information on its website for people returning from China or who may have had contact with an infected person, as well as for medical professionals.
Public health departments in all states in Australia have the ability, facilities and clearly established protocols for placing people in quarantine to prevent communicable disease from spreading.