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On Thursday 5 March, it was confirmed that the first suspected case of COVID-19 in South Africa has tested positive. Our aim is to ensure that you are appropriately informed and prepared and we commit to keeping you up to date with developments.
Your wellbeing as RMI members is our priority and the purpose of this message is to help you understand what steps we can all take to prevent the spreading of infection.
Please note at this point there is absolutely no reason to panic. The more informed you are, however, the lower the risk for all members.
The World Health Organisation released some very useful and practical guidelines on getting your workplace ready for COVID-19.
Here is a summary of some of the content:
How COVID-19 spreads
When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones. People could contract COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to flu.
Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover. However, some go on to experience more serious symptoms and may require hospital care. Risk of serious illness rises with age: people over 40 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40. People with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart- and lung-disease are also more vulnerable to serious illness.
What are the symptoms?
Known symptoms range from mild to severe and are as follows:
- Shortness of breath
- Kidney failure
Simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace
The low-cost measures below will help prevent the spread of infections in your workshops and offices and protect your customers, contractors and employees. Employers should start doing these things now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate.
Things to check
- Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic.
- Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly because contamination on surfaces touched by employees and customers is one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads.
- Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers.
- Anti-bacterial hand wash dispensers must be regularly refilled.
- Make sure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water. This kills the virus on your hands and prevents the spread of COVID-19.
- Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace.
- Encourage your staff to carry paper tissues and to sneeze and cough into these while in the workplace.
- Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel advice before going on business trips.
- Brief your employees, contractors and customers that if COVID-19 starts spreading in your community anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3°C or more) needs to stay at home. They should also stay home (or work from home) if they have had to take simple medications, such as paracetamol/acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin, which may mask symptoms of infection.
Now is the time to prepare for COVID-19. Simple precautions and planning can make a big difference. Action now will help protect your employees and your business.
How to stay informed
Find the latest information from WHO on where COVID-19 is spreading:
Advice and guidance from WHO on COVID-19:
Please circulate this notice to all your employees. The RMI will be following progress carefully and will update you on any new developments.
If you have any concerns do not hesitate to contact your personal medical care provider.