Suspected COVID-19 Case Workplace Advisory

What to do if an employee or a member of the public becomes unwell and believe they have been exposed to COVID-19

Follow the advice of NCDC on criteria for possible exposure to COVID-19 (for example, areas where the person may have travelled to) to identify those that may have been exposed.

If someone becomes unwell in the workplace and there is reason to suspect they may have come into contact with COVID-19 (e.g. has travelled to China, USA, Italy, Spain Europe etc or other affected countries), the unwell person should be removed to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people. If possible, find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a closed door, such as a staff office. If it is possible to open a window, do so for ventilation.

The individual who is unwell should use their personal mobile phone (not office line to limit possible spread) to call the designated public health service number.

If it is an emergency (if seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk) then you should call NCDC (NCDC Toll-Free Number: 0800 9700 0010; SMS: 08099555577; WhatsApp: 07087110839; Twitter/Facebook: @NCDCgov) and explain the situation and relevant information, such as which country they have returned from in the last 14 days and outline their current symptoms.

You can also reach out to us via:; Twitter/Facebook: @SFHNigeria

Whilst waiting for advice from the designated public health or emergency service, the affected person should remain at least two metres from other people. They should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects and should cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in a bag or pocket then throw the tissue in the bin. If they don’t have any tissues available, they should cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.

If they need to go to the bathroom whilst waiting for medical assistance, they should use a separate bathroom if available.

What to do if a member of staff or the public with suspected COVID-19 has recently been in your workplace

For contacts of a suspected case in the workplace, follow the guidance given by NCDC. The management team of the office or workplace will be contacted by the designated public health services to discuss the case, to identify people who have been in contact with them and to advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken.
A risk assessment of each situation will be undertaken by the designated public health services with the lead responsible person in your workplace. They will provide advice on how to manage staff and members of the public, based on their assessment of the risk.

The designated public health services will also be in contact with the affected person directly to advise on isolation and identifying other contacts and will be in touch with any persons they have contacted to provide them with appropriate advice.

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, SFH will inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as much as possible.

Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should be given instructions on what to do according to SFH’s policies and the national authorities´ guidance. Advice on cleaning of communal areas such as offices or toilets will be given by designated public health services (see ‘Cleaning offices and public spaces where there are suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19’ below).

Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their Supervisor and HR and refer to national health services guidance as to how to assess their potential exposure and the measures to take.

When individuals in the workplace have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19

If a confirmed case is identified in your workplace, the designated public health services will provide advice to:

  • Any employee that has been in close face-to-face or touching contact
  • Anyone talking with or being coughed on for any length of time while the employee was symptomatic
  • Anyone who has cleaned up any bodily fluids
  • Close friendship groups or workgroups
  • Any employee living in the same household as a confirmed case

Contacts are not considered cases and if they are feeling well, they are very unlikely to have spread the infection to others:

  • Those who have had close contact will be asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact with the confirmed case and follow the advice they will be actively followed up by the designated public health services
  • If they develop new symptoms or their existing symptoms worsen within their 14-day observation period they should call the designated public health services for reassessment
  • If they become unwell with cough, fever or shortness of breath they will be tested for COVID-19
  • If they are unwell at any time within their 14-day observation period and they test positive for COVID-19 they will become a confirmed case and will be treated for the infection
  • Staff who have not had close contact with the original confirmed case do not need to take any precautions other than monitoring their health for flu-like symptoms and can continue to attend work.

Confirmed Positive COVID-19 Test

A confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace will cause anxiety among co-workers and some may become stressed. Clear communication is important, directing workers to reliable sources of information about COVID-19. Managers should be supportive and understanding and as far as possible flexible on working arrangements. Employees may test positive or a close family member or friend whom they have had contact with can test positive, and this will have implications for other staff of the organization.

  • If an employee or someone in their immediate household has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the employee should not report to work OR be sent home to work remote, if able. If not able to work remote, the employee may be placed on medical/personal leave for a 14-day quarantine period
  • The staff will be required to list individuals that came into close contact with him/her during the two weeks leading up to the positive test. This would include employees, clients, vendors and any other business contacts. SFH will make plans to communicate with these specific individuals. This will be done in a confidential manner such that the identity of the staff will not be disclosed. Any staff who came in close contact with the index staff should be sent home for a 14-day period, with the ability to work remote, if appropriate.
  • Those specific staff who cannot work remote, due to their work not being conducive to remote arrangements, or they become ill, should be placed on an approved leave of absence.
  • Steps should be taken to immediately sanitize the work area and any work surfaces.
  • SFH will proactively communicate to ALL employees regarding potential exposure in the workplace. Management will also convey all the measures and steps they are taking to keep employees healthy and safe.
  • Staff who have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the CDC, can discontinue quarantine after the following:
    • They have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever
      without the use medicine that reduces fevers); AND
    • Other symptoms have improved (for example, when cough or shortness of breath
      have improved); AND
    • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
    • At such points, management will consider the option of allowing most/all employees to work remote, may opt to move to a remote workplace for all employees as a cautionary measure.

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