Useful information on the new Corona Virus Strain 2019-NCOV – Last update 04/04/2020
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause disease both in animals and humans. Following a cluster of pneumonia cases in the city of Wuhan in China, the Chinese health authorities reported the novel coronavirus strain, named 2019-nCoV.
From 31st of December 2019 to 4th of April 2020, a total of 1.082.054 laboratory confirmed cases of the new coronavirus strain were reported, including 58.142 deaths. Most cases up untill now have been reported in European countries.
Most likely, the original transmission to humans came from an animal in a market in China. Based on available epidemiological data, it appears that the new coronavirus is transmitted from human to human through droplets excreted from a diseased person, by coughing or sneezing, or by direct or indirect contact with respiratory secretions, through infected hands.
It is not yet known for how long 2019-nCoV is able to survive on the surfaces, but according to the latest data, it seems that it may survive for a few hours. Also, the incubation period, meaning the time between infection and the onset of symptoms, has not been fully determined yet and is roughly estimated to 2-14 days, with an average of about 5 days.
“The new coronavirus is transmitted from person to person through droplets that are excreted when the patient coughs or sneezes.”
If a person gets infected by the virus, the symptoms may vary from mild, such as those of the common cold, fever, cough, and sore throat, to very serious, such as pneumonia or shortness of breath, while rarely may lead to death. Most vulnerable to the emergence of serious disease are the elderly and people with underlying diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The first line of defense against infections is the careful hand hygiene. Frequent hand washing with soap and water is therefore recommended. if the hands are not visibly filthy, alternatively an alcoholic solution (e.g. alcohol 70 ° C) may be used. In any case, the use of gloves doesn’t replace the hand washing.
Also, the strict observance of hygiene measures is another important preventive measure. Covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and avoiding contact with the mouth, nose, or eyes prevents germs from spreading. If there are patients with respiratory symptoms, should be avoided close contact within 1-2 meters.
In the workplace, good ventilation is recommended as well as availability of the following:
- hand soap and water or alcoholic cleaning solution
- tissue paper
- simple surgical masks
- disposable gloves
- garbage bags
- surface cleaning liquids
The role of the cleaning personnel is very important as it helps to prevent virus transmission. Frequent cleaning of surfaces, such as door handles, toiletries, etc., is required, as well as on the spot cleaning when surfaces are contaminated with biological fluids. Cleaning personnel is advised to use disposable masks, gloves and aprons when cleaning a space that a patient/suspected case has stayed, should not touch the mouth, nose or eyes while working, and should not smoke or eat.
Watch the video with the preventive measures here
Handling a suspicious virus case in the workplace
In any case of suspected virus case, the instructions given by the National Public Health Organization (EODY), which is the successor of the pre-existing Center of Disease Control and Prevention (KELPNO), should now be strictly followed.
However, timely planning and update of employees will contribute to the organized management of a suspicious virus case and maintaining the smooth running of the business.
If an employee fulfills the criteria for the new coronavirus infection, then the site manager should immediately call EODY at 210 5212000 and 210 5212054 (24 hours a day) to report the suspected case and receive instructions on how to deal with it. It is important that the GEP Occupational Doctor who visits the facility (210-9405866) is also briefed so that additional precautionary measures may be taken.
Based on the latest instructions, the employee is advised to stay in his/her workplace (eg in his/her office space). The air conditioning system may remain open; however, the door should be closed. An employee with symptoms of respiratory infection should be given a simple surgical mask and tissue immediately. If there is no significant reason, the other employees should not be allowed to enter the specific area.
After the employee has left the room, the surfaces should be cleaned twice (double passage) with antiviral disinfectant. According to the latest guidelines from EODY, all potentially contaminated surfaces should be cleaned with fresh 5.25% household bleach solution, at a ratio of 1-part bleach / 49 parts water, remaining on the surface for 15-30 minutes and then it will be rinsed with water. Metal surfaces should be cleaned with 70% alcohol, while surfaces visibly contaminated with blood or other biological liquids should be cleaned with fresh 5.25% household bleach solution, 1: 4, remaining on the surface for 10 minutes and then it will be rinsed with water.
The risk for the traveler is considered moderate, however, it is recommended that employees should avoid traveling to areas with documented continues transmission of the new corona virus, if not necessary.
However, if an employee travels in areas with documented continuous transmission, he/she must frequently wash his/her hands with soap and water, avoid contact with patients and avoid contact with alive or dead animals, animals’ markets and products of animal origin, such as non-cooked meat.
Upon his return journey from an area with documented continues transmission of the new coronavirus, the person’s health should be monitored for 14 days, and if he/she exhibits symptoms, such as fever or difficulty breathing or coughing, 14 days after returning, should stay at home and seek immediate medical attention mentioning his/her recent trip or contact EODY.
“The outbreak is evolving and the instructions are subject to change”