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Nigeria on Thursday announced the first confirmed case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) which has been plaguing many countries across the world.

This makes it the third confirmed case in Africa, and more cases might still be detected as there is yet no respite from the ongoing outbreak.

While the World Health Organisation had declared it a health issue of global concern, the federal government also said it has been putting in place measures to contain an eventual outbreak of the disease in the country.

However, to successfully contain the outbreak, every section of our society – including businesses and employers – must play a role, it said.

As at Friday, over 75,000 people have been infected and 2,500 people have died from the disease outbreak.

The respiratory disease is capable of spreading through human-to-human contact, droplets carried through sneezing and coughing, and germs left on inanimate objects.

Symptoms of the disease can include a sore throat, runny nose, fever or pneumonia and can progress to multiple organ failure or death in some severe cases.

WHO compiled some tips on how to secure your workplace.

How COVID-19 spreads

Covid-19 can spread when someone infected with the virus coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid.

Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones.

People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them.

Risk of serious illness rises with age: people over 40 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40.

Also, people with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease are also more vulnerable to serious illness.

Tips
  1. 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
  2. Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers.
  3. Put sanitisers and hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled.
  4. Display posters promoting hand-washing – ask your local public health authority for these or look on www.WHO.int.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 COVID19.
  7. Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace.
  8. 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.
  9. Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel advice before going on business trips.
  10. Consider issuing employees who are about to travel with small bottles (under 100 CL) of alcohol-based hand rub. This can facilitate regular hand-washing.
  11. Employees who have returned from an area where COVID-19 is spreading should monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days and take their temperature twice a day.
  12. 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 (one 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.
  13. Promote regular teleworking across your organization. If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community the health authorities may advise people to avoid public transport and crowded places. Teleworking will help your business keep operating while your employees stay safe.

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