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    Covid-19: Govt issues fresh guidelines for offices

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    The Union health ministry has issued Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on preventive measures to contain the spread of Coronavirus in offices. As the Union Health Ministry statement, offices in containment zones shall remain closed except for medical and essential services and only those outside containment zones will be allowed to open up. It added the generic preventive measures include simple public health measures that are to be followed to reduce the risk of infection with Covid-19.

    These measures include maintaining a minimum distance of 6 feet in common places, use of face covers or masks at all times and practising frequent hand washing.

    Check out the guidelines:

    • Work can resume after disinfection gets completed as per laid down protocols, the standard operating procedures (SOPs), which were issued earlier.
    • Officers and staff residing in containment zones should inform the same to their supervisory officer and not attend office till the containment zone is denotified.
    • Such staff should be permitted to work from home.
    • If a larger number of cases are reported at the workplace, the whole block or building should be disinfected before work is resumed.
    • The SOPs stated that only asymptomatic staff or visitors shall be allowed entry, individuals must maintain a minimum distance of six feet in common places as far as feasible, and use face covers or masks at all times.
    • Offices in containment zones shall remain closed except for medical and essential services and only those outside will be allowed to open up.
    • Practicing frequent handwashing with soap for at least 40 to 60 seconds, even when hands are not visibly dirty, and use of alcohol-based hand sanitiser for at least 20 seconds wherever feasible.
    • 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 etc, Covid-19 infection can spread relatively fast among officials, staffs and visitors.
    • Entrances of offices should have mandatory provisions for hand hygiene like sanitiser dispensers, thermal screening. These should be proper cleaning and frequent sanitisation, at least twice a day, of the workplace, particularly of the frequently touched surfaces, according to the document.
    • Meetings, as far as possible, should be done through video conferencing and large physical gatherings continue to remain prohibited.
    • The number of people in elevators shall be restricted, duly maintaining physical distancing norms for which proper markings should be made on the floor of the elevators.
    • For air-conditioning and ventilation, the guidelines of 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 per cent, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate.
    • The seating arrangement has to be done to ensure a distance of at least six feet.
    • Any shop, stall, cafeteria or canteen outside and within the office premises must ensure physical distancing norms are being followed at all times.
    • Cleaning and regular disinfection using one per cent sodium hypochlorite of frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails, benches, washroom fixtures, must be done in-office premises and in common areas at least twice a day.
    • Staff should take their temperature regularly and check for respiratory symptoms and must see a doctor if they feel unwell or show flu-like symptoms.
    • Besides, staff and waiters should wear mask and hand gloves and take other required precautionary measures.

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