The offices can now resume work after proper disinfection, in case COVID-19 cases are reported, without closing or sealing the premises, according to the union health ministry’s fresh guidelines.
In order to contain the spread of COVID-19 in office settings, the Union Health Ministry’s fresh guidelines for workplace mentions: “If there are one or two COVID-19 cases reported at a workplace, the disinfection procedure will be limited to places/areas occupied and visited by the patient in past 48 hours and work can be resumed after disinfection as per laid down protocol.”
The guidelines further mentioned that in case of a larger number of COVID-19 cases are being reported at the workplace, the whole block or building, as the case may be, should be disinfected.
As offices and other workplaces are relatively close settings, with shared spaces like workstations, corridors, elevators and stairs, parking places, cafeteria/canteens, meeting rooms and conference halls, it is most likely that COVID-19 infection can spread relatively fast among officials, staffs and visitors, it said.
Hence, there is a need to prevent the spread of infection and to respond in a timely and effective manner in case suspect case of COVID-19 is detected in these settings, so as to limit the spread of infection, it added.
The guidelines’ highlighted that office in containment zones shall remain closed except for medical and essential services.
Only those outside containment zones will be allowed to open up, it further mentioned. The guidelines said that mandatory hand hygiene and thermal screening should be ensured at the entrance and only asymptomatic staff and visitors should be allowed entry.
The ministry further said that these measures need to be observed by all employees and visitors at all times. These include maintaining a minimum distance of 6 feet in common places, use of face covers or masks at all times and practicing frequent hand washing.
Meetings, as far as feasible should be done through video conferencing, it added. In case any covid case is reported despite taking the appropriate action, the management has to place the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others at the workplace, the guidelines mentioned.
“A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority and accordingly further advice shall be made regarding the management of the case, his/her contacts and need for disinfection. The management of cases and contacts will be done as per the existing protocol,” it said.
For air-conditioning and ventilation, the guidelines of the Central Public Works Department must be followed and these mentions that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degrees Celsius, relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70 percent, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate, it said.