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  • Employers and employees are being encouraged to continue maintaining infection prevention and control measures when persons begin to return to work, after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic subsides.
  • This advice comes from Director of Health Promotion and Protection Branch in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Simone Spence, who was addressing a digital press conference via telephone on Wednesday (April 29).
  • Turning to proper mask etiquette, Dr. Spence advised that it should fit the face properly and cover the nose and mouth. She noted, as well, that while wearing masks, persons should practise proper hand hygiene and all other infection-prevention and control measures, “because wearing the mask alone is not going to offer full protection”.

Employers and employees are being encouraged to continue maintaining infection prevention and control measures when persons begin to return to work, after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic subsides.

This advice comes from Director of Health Promotion and Protection Branch in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Simone Spence, who was addressing a digital press conference via telephone on Wednesday (April 29).

“We have to make sure, as both employees and employers, that we are practising infection prevention and control measures… in terms of our handwashing practices, especially as persons come back into the workspace. Make sure that staff members or customers and persons accessing these workspaces have an ability to wash their hands with soap and water, or that we have hand sanitisation stations in prominent places around the workplace that both customers and staff can access,” she said.

Another measure, Dr. Spence highlighted, is good respiratory hygiene within the workspace, where persons cover their coughs and sneezes and make sure they do not touch their faces in terms of eyes, nose and mouth, especially after having coughed and sneezed; and hands are washed or sanitised, thereafter.

“As we pull persons back into the workspace, we [should] still be maintaining the physical distancing of six feet at our workstations, making sure that as a part of our business continuity plan, we have persons working from home, if possible, conducting our meetings virtually and if it is that we have to have face-to-face meetings, at least maintaining and practising physical distancing while we are in these meeting spaces,” she said.

Dr. Spence also advised that the workspace should be kept clean, especially areas that are frequently touched, such as desktops, tables, elevator buttons, and equipment such as headphones and headsets, which should be assigned to specific workers and not shared.

“As employers, our workspace should really have a cleaning schedule, and so the cleaning staff or janitorial staff should be aware of the cleaning schedule and increase the frequency of the cleaning of the frequently touched surfaces,” she said.

Turning to proper mask etiquette, Dr. Spence advised that it should fit the face properly and cover the nose and mouth. She noted, as well, that while wearing masks, persons should practise proper hand hygiene and all other infection-prevention and control measures, “because wearing the mask alone is not going to offer full protection”.

She further advised employers to make sure they resensitise staff about how COVID-19 is transmitted, so employees have an understanding as to why it is important to practise these key prevention measures.

“Importantly, we have to assign persons to monitor that the practices are actually taking place and being implemented,” she said.

Additionally, she recommended that employers should have an overall plan to treat with someone who becomes ill at work, in terms of isolating the person from others and ensuring that the individual is moved from the workspace to their home in a safe and appropriate manner.

On the prevalent issue of stigma and discrimination, Dr. Spence reminded that anyone can be infected or affected by COVID-19, “so we really should not be stigmatising those persons coming [to] the workplace – whether they are suspected, confirmed or not… because we are all in this fight together”.

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