What should I do if an employee tests positive for coronavirus?
In the time of a pandemic, it is important to not just have communication strategies and contingency plans, but for everyone involved and possibly affected to be informed of the appropriate next steps to take.
The most common coronavirus symptoms are fever, fatigue, and dry cough. Some patients may also experience aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people develop infection but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
If an employee is positive for COVID-19, take the following steps as part of an emergency response plan:
If the employee is onsite at the facility:
- Isolate the employee by guiding them to a designated isolation area via a dedicated isolation route, ensuring distancing of at least 2 meters between the symptomatic person and yourself and others at all times. The individual should be provided with a mask if available.
- Arrange transport to the hospital for medical assessment or call the local emergency number to take them. Notify the dispatch personnel and your management team that the employee has COVID-19.
- Record the names and contact details (address, mobile number) of all people working nearby or who came in close contact with the unwell person.
- Report the health case to the relevant government authority or local disease control department. Some good information to prepare when reporting a case can include:
- The number of people suspected to have been exposed
- Date and time the case was confirmed
- Perform cleaning and sanitation of the entire area visited by the unwell individual, including the route to the isolation area.
If the employee works from home, they should follow these guidelines:
- Stay at home.
- Monitor symptoms.
- Get rest and stay hydrated.
- If they have a medical appointment, they should call the healthcare provider ahead of time and tell them that they have or may have COVID-19.
- For a health emergency, they should call 911 and notify the dispatch personnel that they have or may have COVID-19.
- Cover their cough and sneezes.
- Wash hands on a regular basis with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or clean their hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Maintain distancing by staying in a specific room and away from other people in the household as much as possible. They should also use a separate bathroom, if available.
- If they need to be around other people in or outside of the home, they should wear a face mask.
- Avoid sharing personal items like dishes, towels, and bedding with other people in the household.
- Sterilize all high-touch surfaces like counters, tabletops, and doorknobs. Use household disinfectant spray or wipes according to the label instructions.
Educating everyone on the symptoms, progression, and precautionary measures against the disease helps ensure that employees know how to protect themselves. It is ideal to set up internal channels or designate personnel that will manage communication to other employees when an employee has tested positive, and provide support to the employee that tests positive.