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Coronavirus – Information for Small Business Owners

Health and safetyFebruary 10, 2020

Coronavirus – Information for Small Business Owners

The coronavirus has been making news headlines for the past couple of weeks, and many business owners and employers have been getting in touch with Employsure about how to best react to the ongoing situation.

This virus was not detected before the current outbreak, hence the urgency displayed by many governmental organisations and governments in containing the virus.

The nature of the virus is not yet fully known, and as such information about the virus, how contagious it is and how it is transmitted may be lacking. Until more is known, official sources – such as the Ministry of Health – will only release more information about the virus as it is known.

Employsure strongly urges all clients and business owners around New Zealand to only consider the advice of experts when considering and implementing any coronavirus-related workplace health and safety policies.

As such, the following article is composed of information gathered from official government sources, together with practical advice from Employsure’s OHS team.

What Is the Coronavirus?

A virus which can cause severe respiratory illness. Before the current outbreak, this virus had not been detected.

What Are the Symptoms of Coronavirus?

  • Flu-like symptoms (such as coughing, sore throat and headaches)
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing

 

How Can You Prevent the Illness?

Given what we currently know about the Coronavirus, it is best practice to implement the following:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly
    • Use soap and water
    • Rub the soap all over parts of your hands for at least 20 seconds
    • Rinse
    • Dry your hands with a paper towel`
  • Cough or sneeze thoughtfully
    • Cover your mouth with a tissue, or
    • Cough into your upper sleeve or elbow
    • Do not cough into your hands
  • Avoid contact with wild or farm animals

 

Also consider providing your employees with a memorandum about the outbreak and importance of exercising good hygiene.

What Do I Do If an Employee Suspects They Have the Coronavirus?

Advise employees to call 111 or seek urgent medical attention if they suspect they have contracted the illness. The government also suggests ill employees to remain at home to reduce the spread of infection.

Speak to a medical practitioner if they would like further information on the illness or review government materials for reference.

Official Information Is Important

As above, The Ministry of Health have not identified enough detailed information about the coronavirus. Please follow the official page for up-to-date information. Avoid misinformation.

Therefore, it is very important to emphasise the practicing of good hygiene, also as above. The Ministry of Health has several resources, in both English and Chinese. They can be found on the official page.

The Origin of the Virus

The coronavirus originated in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. According to the government, “the majority of cases” are in that location.

Several countries have identified cases of the virus in their country. At the time of writing, in NZ there have been 0 confirmed cases but there have been 12 confirmed cases in Australia. A New Zealand man tested positive on a cruise ship currently moored in Japan.

The people most at risk of contracting the virus, according to government, are people who have:

  • Been in mainland China recently
  • Been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of coronavirus

 

The Kiwi citizens who have been airlifted back to the country from China, will remain in quarantine in Whangaparāoa, near Auckland, for 14 days to minimise the chances of transmission.

If one of your employees is one of the above, ensure they have followed the government’s recommended procedure. For any further actions (e.g. how to integrate them back into the workplace while ensuring the confidence of your employees that they won’t be infectious), please get in contact with Employsure’s advice line.

If you have any further questions related to workplace health and safety and the coronavirus, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Employsure Advice team.

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