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A new document from Public Health England titled ‘COVID-19: guidance for employers and businesses’ was published on 25 February.

The key points of the PHE document are:

  • Spread is most likely to happen when there is contact within 2 metres of an infected person. It is likely that the risk increases the longer someone has close contact with an infected person for 15 minutes or more.
  • It is also possible to become infected by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes.
  • The virus does not live on surfaces for longer than 72 hours and this time will be degraded by sunlight, surface conditions and temperature.
  • Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time in (such as corridors) do not need to be specially cleaned and disinfected. 
  • Face masks are not recommended to protect from infection as there is no evidence of benefit from their use outside healthcare environments.
  • For a suspected case in the workplace, no restrictions or special control measures are required while test results are awaited. There is no need to close the workplace or send other staff home at this point. (Most possible cases turn out to be negative.)
  • If a person becomes ill in a shared space (such as an office), these should be cleaned using disposable cloths and household detergents, according to current recommended workplace legislation and practice.
  • If a confirmed case is identified in the workplace, the local Health Protection Team will provide the relevant staff with advice. Key staff to be advised will be those:
    • in close face-to-face or touching contact.
    • talking with or being coughed on for any length of time while the employee was symptomatic.
    • anyone who has cleaned up any bodily fluids.
    • close friendship groups or work groups.
    • any employee living in the same household as a confirmed case.
  • There is no perceived increase in risk for handling post or freight from specified areas.

The document can be found here.


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