Experts explain how to protect your workplace amid coronavirus outbreak

This week, coronavirus cases in the UK have hit 280, leading to widespread panic about the spread of the disease.

If you work in a busy office, you may be worried about the risk of the disease spreading around your workplace.

Thankfully, there are a number of preventative measures you can implement to reduce the risk for both you and your colleagues.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has put together a handy guide on how your office can plan, prepare and respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

From emphasising hand hygiene to performing routine deep cleans, here’s the CDC’s advice to protect your workplace.

1. Actively encourage sick employees to stay home

If you’re feeling sick, you may be tempted to soldier on and go into work, but the CDC advises against this.

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It explained: “Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants).

“Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.”

2. Separate sick employees

Any employees who fall ill while at work should be separated and sent home immediately, according to the CDC.

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It said: “CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately.

“Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).”

3. Emphasise hand hygiene

If your office doesn’t already have them, consider putting up posters about hand hygiene and sneezing and coughing etiquette.

NHS England has some excellent official coronavirus advice posters here, and they're free.

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The CDC said: “Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace.

"Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.”

4. Perform routine deep cleans

Routinely clean any high-risk surfaces, such as phones, keyboards and kitchen counters.

The CDC said: “Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.”

Make sure you and your colleagues are careful about travelling, especially if you’re feeling unwell.

The CDC said: “Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and should promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.”

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