The outbreak of COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan China. On 28th February 2020 the first case of COVID-19 was reported in New Zealand.
This new coronavirus is a severe respiratory disease which can affect the lungs and airways. The pandemic has swept the world and been responsible for more than 2,000,000 deaths*.
In New Zealand, there are important steps that staff and businesses must take in order to ensure that the risk of transmission is reduced.
Sanitise and disinfect your workplaces
It has been shown that COVID-19 is effectively destroyed by isopropyl alcohol and sodium hypochlorite. Efficiently and regularly cleaning your offices including floors, windows, walls, furniture and devices will help to ensure that any chance of transmission of the virus is reduced.
It is important to wear gloves when cleaning with these ingredients in order to protect your skin. You can find a full list of disinfectants that are effective against COVID-19 here.
Clean shared equipment regularly
Where possible, it is ideal if businesses can reduce the amount of shared equipment that staff use. However, where this is not possible, focus on regularly cleaning equipment that is shared.
Think of it in terms of “touch points”. These are things that are most often touched by staff and clients, such as:
- Door handles
- Light switches
- Toilet and tap handles
- Stair rails
- Heating and cooling switches/remotes
- Alarm buttons
Ensure all touch points are cleaned regularly.
Other ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19
Aside from rigorous and regular office cleaning, there are lots of other steps employers can take to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 in their workplaces.
Where possible, staff can wear masks. These should be regularly replaced or if they are reusable, regularly cleaned. Staff should be trained to avoid touching their faces while wearing masks. Masks should also be worn on all public transport.
In New Zealand, under any of the 4 alert levels, businesses are required to display the NZ COVID Tracer QR code poster. Clients and staff can easily scan this code on their phones using the NZ COVID Tracer App. This app tracks the places you have been and when, allowing for much faster and more efficient contact tracing in the event of an outbreak.
Work from home
Where possible, staff may be able to work remotely or from home. This reduces the risk of possible transmission.
Stay home if sick
If you or your staff are sick, stay home. If your staff display symptoms of the virus, they can call Healthline and ask about getting a free COVID-19 test.
Encourage good hygiene
Place sanitiser in easy to access locations throughout your workplace. Entries, exits, reception desks etc are great places for these. Encourage staff and clients to use it regularly and to wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.
Maintain physical distancing
The WHO recommends maintaining a distance of 2 metres between people. Where possible, encourage this in your workplace.
* Cited from worldometer on 19/01/2021 https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/