Entire office need not be shut down if only 1-2 cases of coronavirus reported: Centre

Entire office need not be shut down if only 1-2 cases of coronavirus reported: Centre

The Union Health Ministry has issued new guidelines for workspaces that plan to start work in Lockdown 4.0 and said that the entire office buildings need not be closed if one or two cases of coronavirus are detected. Office could resume work after it is disinfected as per protocol as per the new guidelines issued on Monday.

The health ministry has issued these guidelines on preventive and response measures to be observed to contain the spread of coronavirus in workplaces. In case there is a large outbreak, the entire building will have to be closed for 48 hours. All staff will work from home till the building is adequately disinfected and is declared fit for re-occupation.

"If there are large numbers of contacts from a pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic case, there could be a possibility of a cluster emerging in a workplace setting. Due to the close environment in workplace settings, this could even be a large cluster," read the Health Ministry guidelines.

Any staff reportedly suffering from a flu-like symptoms should not attend office and seek medical advice from local health authorities. Such persons, if diagnosed as a suspect or confirmed case of coronavirus should immediately inform office administration.

"Any staff requesting home quarantine based on the containment zone activities in their residential areas should be permitted to work from home. DoPT guidelines with respect to organizing meetings, coordinating visitors shall be scrupulously followed," the guidelines said, adding, " since offices and other workplaces are in a relatively close setting with shared spaces like corridors, elevators and stairs, cafeteria, meeting rooms and conference halls, coronavirus infection can spread relatively fast among officials, staff and visitors."

"Thus there is a need to prevent importation of infection in workplace settings and to respond in a timely and effective manner in case a suspect case of COVID-19 is detected in these settings so as to limit the spread of infection," the ministry said in the document.

The health ministry has said when one or a few people who share a room or a closed office space are found to be suffering from symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, the ill person should be placed in a room where they are isolated from others at the workplace and should be provided a mask or face cover till such they are examined by a doctor.

If a suspected case reports very mild or mild symptoms on an assessment by the health authorities, the person would be placed in home isolation, subject to fulfilment of criteria laid down by the health ministry.