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COVID-19 ABC at the workplace: what to do if you have been exposed to the coronavirus and suspect infection

15.09.2020


  • COVID-19 is an infectious disease that spreads from person to person through droplets, mainly in close contact* with an infected person.
  • The risk of COVID-19 spread is higher in closed, crowded, and poorly ventilated rooms.
  • The objective of these instructions is to guide employers and employees on how to ensure a safe workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The employee has had an encounter with a potentially contagious person

  • From the perspective of preventing the spread of COVID-19, it is important that an employee who has been in close contact* with a potentially contagious person notified their employer.
  • From the perspective of preventing the spread of COVID-19, it is important that an employee informs their employer of the test results. It is equally important to inform the employer of negative test results to stop co-workers from worrying.
  • All employees who have been in close contact* with a person carrying the COVID-19 virus are to be sent into self-isolation. In this case, the employees are obligated to contact their family physician who will issue a temporary incapacity for work certificate. Detailed information is available at the Estonian Health Insurance Fund website.
  • If there are employees who have been in close contact with an employee who has been in close contact with a potentially contagious person or a person whose test result has turned out to be positive, the employer must assess the risks and adopt the necessary measures (for example, disinfect all premises, re-organise work, so that employees could keep distance, spread lunch breaks, organise teleworking, provide personal protective equipment).
  • The Health Board’s instructions for people who have been exposed to COVID-19.

The employee got infected in their free time (not at the workplace):

  • The employee must stay at home and contact their family physician.
  • From the perspective of preventing the spread of COVID-19, it is important that the employee informs their employer of the test results. It is equally important to inform the employer of negative test results to stop the co-workers from worrying.
  • Co-workers who have not been in close contact with the employee during their symptomatic period may continue working, but they must closely monitor their health during the next 14 days.
  • If any symptoms appear, stay home, and contact your family physician.
  • An infected employee may return to work after their doctor has terminated their temporary incapacity for work certificate.

The employee got infected while working (at the workplace):

  • The infected employee must go home immediately.
  • The infected employee must contact their family physician.
  • From the perspective of preventing the spread of COVID-19, it is important that an employee informs their employer of the test results. It is equally important to inform the employer of negative test results to stop the co-workers from worrying.
  • If necessary, all rooms that may have gotten contaminated with the virus must be closed to third persons and thoroughly cleaned, disinfected, and ventilated. Recommendations of the Health Board for cleaning and disinfection.
  • If an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, all employees who have been in close contact* with the infected employee during their symptomatic period must be identified. The employer must cooperate with the relevant regional unit of the Health Board to identify the people who have been in close contact with the infected person.
  • Employees who have been in close contact with the infected employee are to be sent into self-isolation. In this case, the employees must contact their family physician who will issue a temporary incapacity for work certificate. See detailed information at the Estonian Health Insurance Fund website.
  • Employees who have not been in close contact* with the infected employee may continue working but must closely monitor their health.
  • An infected employee and employees who have been in close contact with an infected person may return to work after their doctor has terminated their temporary incapacity for work certificate.

General recommendations

  • Advise your employees to use the HOIA application. The application informs people if they have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus. Read more at https://hoia.me/en/ 
  • It is important to wash your hands thoroughly, ventilate the rooms properly, clean all premises, and apply other precautions. Consider installing hand sanitiser dispensers near every entrance, in larger rooms, and passageways, but ensure chemical safety, i.e. that all instruments are used correctly and as intended.

If you have any questions

You will find answers to frequently asked questions concerning occupational relations, the working environment, and COVID-19 at the relevant page on the Tööelu website.

* Close contact is:

  • direct physical contact with a person carrying the COVID-19 infection (e.g. shaking hands);
  • direct contact with the respiratory tract secretions of a person carrying the COVID-19 infection without using personal protective equipment (e.g. being coughed on);
  • being in the same room with a person carrying the COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes within a distance of 2 metres, including living in the same household as a person carrying the COVID-19 infection.

 

Photo: Pixabay 

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COVID-19 ABC at the workplace: what to do if you have been exposed to the coronavirus and suspect infection
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