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Safety Alert: Coronavirus

January 31, 2020
Safety Alert:
Bird flu, Swine Flu, MERS, SARS, Ebola, Zika…and now the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
 
 
Yesterday the CDC confirmed the sixth U.S. case of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and the first instance of person-to-person transmission of the potentially deadly virus here in Illinois! 
 
The disease was transmitted from an infected woman to her husband. In response, the World Health Organization, WHO, declared a global health emergency. Per an ABC News story, this is only the sixth time in its history the WHO has declared a global health emergency.
 
Per the CDC, for confirmed 2019-nCoV infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people being mildly sick to people being severely ill and dying. The fatality rate has been >3%.
 
Symptoms can include:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
 
For the general public: 
No additional precautions are recommended at this time beyond the simple daily precautions that everyone should always take including:
  • Proper hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.)
  • Avoid contact with your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
If you are sick:
  • Stay home!
  • Cover your cough or sneeze.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
 
Photo Courtesy CDC
 
For Employers:
Educate your employees. Share the CDC’s
 
Consider asking any employee returning from China to remain home for fourteen days from their return. Ask them to monitor for any symptoms of Coronavirus and seek medical attention if any symptoms arise. 
 
Photo courtesy CDC
 
Right now, China is under a Warning Level 3: avoid all nonessential travel to China. Restrict business travel to China.
 
Request employees to inform you if they are traveling to China for personal reasons. Inform those employees that they may be quarantined upon their return. You should also consider warning those employees that there may not be adequate medical services available if they travel to China and become ill.
 
From OSHA’s Protecting Workers during a Pandemic fact sheet:
  • Employers should ensure that their workers understand:
  • Differences between seasonal epidemics and worldwide pandemic disease outbreaks;
  • Which job activities may put them at risk for exposure to sources of infection;
  • What options may be available for working remotely, or utilizing an employer’s flexible leave policy when they are sick;
  • Social distancing strategies, including avoiding close physical contact (e.g., shaking hands) and large gatherings of people;
  • Good hygiene and appropriate disinfection procedures;
  • What personal protective equipment (PPE) is available, and how to wear, use, clean and store it properly;
  • What medical services (e.g., vaccination, post-exposure medication) may be available to them; and
  • How supervisors will provide updated pandemic-related communications, and where to direct their questions.
 
Sources:
 
 
 
 
 
Contact a Corkill Safety Team member if you have any additional questions or concerns, or to learn more about how to reduce your exposure to liability and Worker's Compensation Claims and protect your workforce.