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The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for the promotion of regular and thorough hand-washing hygiene, adding that the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) can be contracted when someone infected coughs or exhales.

The global health body released a statement on February 27 titled ” Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19″. In the document, WHO warned that people can contract the virus if droplets of infected fluid falls on nearby surfaces and objects such as desks, tables or telephones.

The statement reads in part: “People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth  – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. 

“If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them.

“In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to flu. Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover. However, some go on to experience more serious illness and may require hospital care. 

“Risk of serious illness rises with age: people over 40 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40. People with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease are also more vulnerable to serious illness.”

The document went on to list ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the workplace.

The document states: “Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic, surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly.

“Why? Because contamination on surfaces touched by employees and customers is one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads. 

“Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers.

“Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled. Display posters promoting hand-washing.

“Make sure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water. Why? Because washing kills the virus on your hands and prevents the spread of COVID-19.

“Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace. Display posters promoting respiratory hygiene. Combine this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from occupational health and safety officers, briefing at meetings and information on the internet, etc.

“Ensure that face masks and/or paper tissues are available at your workplaces, for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them.

“Why? Because good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of COVID-19. Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel advice before going on business trips.

“Brief your employees, contractors and customers that if COVID-19 starts spreading in your community, anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3 C or more) needs to stay at home.”

WHO further advised that “employers should start doing these things now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate.”



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