Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Qatar government has urged people to avoid unnecessary travel outside of the country and has reminded everyone to stay at home as much as possible and to practice social distancing. As a result, travel restrictions were implemented as well as the closure of establishments and facilities across the country including but not limited to parks, gyms, cinemas, beaches, and retail stores inside shopping malls to name a few. Classes were also suspended and distance learning was introduced.
READ MORE: Coronavirus in Qatar --- Week 1 - 3 Update
Some employers have adjusted and advised their employees to work remotely from home. But not every company has the option to do this especially for those businesses that require physical presence like hospitals, supermarkets, restaurants, and construction.
According to the World Health Organization, "people can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick."
According to the Government Communications Office, employers can support Qatar’s efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by providing a safe working environment and educating employees on the virus' risks and ways to prevent its transmission.
This includes the following:
According to the workplace guidelines released by MoPH, "it’s of crucial importance that all organizations ensure the safety of their employees, avoid high-risk activities, develop business continuity plans and minimize the risk of spread on infection at the workplace by the following preventive measures."
These are some of the preventive measures included in the guidelines:
1. Monitor developments on a daily basis
The situation is changing daily and you as an employer need to be updated regarding the coronavirus outbreak situation in the country. The government has warned against spreading and believing in rumors and false news so make sure to be updated through the official channels of the relevant authorities like the Ministry of Public Health and the Government Communications Office.
You can also check the daily updates at iloveqatar.net/coronavirus
2. Minimizing contact and promoting physical distancing
Here are some ways that you can implement to minimize contact between your employees:
What is the safe distance? According to the WHO and the Ministry of Public Health, it is advisable to maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has issued a circular that starting March 23, 2020, all retail outlets are to apply a safe distancing of one-and-a-half meters among customers and clients, including those waiting in queues at the cashier and reception desks, by placing guiding signs on the ground.
Aside from the above and the usual food safety and hygiene guidelines, the Ministry of Public Health has also asked the person in charge of the food establishment to do the following:
1. Educating food handlers of the risk of viruses and bacteria and methods to avoid and prevent contracting them.
2. Providing preventive facilities such as hand washing section, W/C, disinfectants, and sanitizers.
3. Following good hygiene practices such as wearing masks, gloves, and adhering to good personal hygiene practices.
4. Reporting in the event of showing any prior symptoms on food handlers during or before starting the work shift.
5. Conducting the internal audit: critical points in the industry should be reviewed and audited.
It will be a challenge to conduct business with the added layer of these new guidelines to maintain workplace safety and to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. But if we do it together, we can overcome this outbreak. #QatarUnited #YourSafetyIsMySafety
Sources: GCO, MoPH, WHO, ECDC
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