WHO has officially declared the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) as a  “public health emergency of international concern”.  Causing over 4,000 deaths out of 1,00,000 globally reported cases – as per the numbers updated on March 7- these numbers are further expected to increase in the coming days.

On February 24, 2020, for first-time cases outside China exceeded those within China. The outbreak is mostly concentrated in four zones — China (centered in Hubei), East Asia (centered in South Korea and Japan), the Middle East (centered in Iran), and Western Europe (centered in Italy).

Coronavirus- worldwide-cases

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in animals or humans. It causes respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in humans.

The most recently discovered coronavirus is termed as “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”) and the virus causing the spread is named “SARS-CoV-2”.

This virus has its origins in bats and its outbreak was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. However, it has now affected several locations internationally, including the United States.

How it Spreads?

Coronavirus Indicators

COVID-19 first surfaced in a seafood market of Wuhan suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, many locations later reported person-to-person spread  – without any access to animal markets. In fact, countries other than China are mostly affected by person-to-person spread.

1.     Person-to-person Transmission

The coronavirus is most contagious if an affected person comes in close contact with another person (within 3-6 feet). And another person inhales their sneeze and cough droplets.

2.     Spread from Contact with Contaminated Surface

Contaminated surfaces are a great risk to the virus spread. If an infected person’s sneeze and cough droplets land on an object, then the bacteria can persist on the surface for a few hours to days depending upon the surface. Meanwhile, if another person touches the infected surface, and subsequently touches their face, they are highly likely to get infected.

How Should Companies Prepare Their Workplace for COVID-19?

The virus has spread like a wildfire taking many lives and affecting others in the process. Businesses have also taken a huge hit in the numbers as thousands of companies have halted their production, import, and export due to the spread.

In such sensitive times, when a virus can crumble down the economy and health of a globe, no workplace can afford to take it for granted. To ensure your workplace doesn’t fall victim to this wildfire, here is a list of precautions that you must implement to guard your employees.

1.     Communicate Right Information Frequently to Employees

United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently released a series of information around COVID-19 to control any flow of the misinformation. Seeing the rapidity and emergency of the situation, they’re constantly updating information on the site.

Therefore, while communicating measures, preventions or other information, ensure to pick information from the right sources (e.g., CDC, WHO). Cross verify all the broadcasting information to avoid spreading the myth.

2.     Encourage Employees to Practice Hygiene

Coronavirus precautions

Employees at the workplace are most exposed to catching and spreading the virus. They often travel locally, domestically or globally and come in close contact with a wide variety of people. In these situations, when the fear of spread looms over your employees, you must contain it before it spreads.

To control this pandemic before it takes turn for worse, implement below CDC recommended precautionary hygiene measures.

  • Stop handshaking – use other non-contact methods of greeting
  • Clean hands at the door and schedule regular hand washing reminders by email
  • Create habits and reminders to avoid touching their faces and cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails regularly
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting the air conditioning

3. Restrain from International Work Travels

Travel is the most prominent reason for the coronavirus global spread.  Travel plans of unidentified infected people have exposed many countries to the COVID-19 threat. Restricting the global movement of people residing in the infected countries or traveling from one is thus the only resort to contain the spread.

To avoid taking any chance, the U.S state department has also issued a “Do not travel” advisory for work-related china travel.

With the rise in the number of cases globally, you must steer clear of any business-related travel in other countries as well. Assess travel-related risks before planning any business travels for your employees.

4. Implement Work from Home Policies

Protecting and supporting employees should be your utmost priority in these sensitive times. Therefore, you must eliminate the passivity and become proactive to deal with this spread before it goes out of hand.

If your workplace lies in the infected area or is likely to be a part of a virus spreading region, you must immediately provide work from home to all your employees. Also, promote your work from home policy thoroughly inside the organization to encourage employees to work remotely in case of mild symptoms.

5. Test Recently Traveled Employees for 2019-nCoV

Test your recently traveled employees for coronavirus if they have recently traveled from infected countries. Suggest them to self-isolate if mild symptoms such as headache, low-grade fever, and a slight runny nose arise. Also, encourage your employees to test their family members if they also have a recent travel history.

Information & Stat References

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Mckinsey

Stay in the Know!
Sign-up for our emails and get insights that’ll help you hire better, faster, and cooler!
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )