COVID cases are on the rise: how to protect your teams this winter
As we move into autumn, an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases has been recorded in the UK. Cases have been steadily rising since the end of July, with most being attributed to an emerging new variant, B.2.86 – also known as Pirola. This is the most troubling variant since Omicron, with 34 mutations giving scientists and medics cause for concern.
Other variants, including Eris and Pi are also causing infection figures to rise, prompting the autumn vaccine roll out to be started earlier than planned. The Uk Health Agency has also confirmed that it will restart infection monitoring this winter.
While infections and hospitalisations are not at the levels we have seen previously, they are climbing. With winter approaching, now is the optimal time to revisit your Covid protocols and protective measures to ensure your teams remain safe and healthy.
1. Encourage regular hand washing
Regularly washing hands with an antibacterial soap for at least 20 seconds and using hand sanitizer after touching surfaces such as doors and handles can help to prevent the spread of infection. Ensure that a good supply of soap is available throughout the workplace, especially in kitchens and bathrooms, with hand sanitizer bottles placed at regular intervals throughout your building. If necessary, install new signs encouraging your teams to sanitize hands frequently.
2. Make face masks available to staff and visitors
While there is no suggestion that face masks will become mandatory, they should still be offered to those who want to wear them. Consider offering face coverings at reception for visitors and at designated points in the workplace for team members who wish to wear a face covering while at work.
3. Have a clear sickness policy
It’s no longer a legal requirement to isolate when testing positive for Covid but those who come into work while infected could pose a risk to those who are more vulnerable to serious illness. Consider updating your company policies so that it’s clear whether those who fall will with COVID-19 are still expected to come into work if they are able to do so. All employees should know what they must do if they feel unwell or test positive, and what options, such as home working or paid sick days are available to them.
4. Ensure adequate ventilation
Ensure there is adequate ventilation throughout your place of work to help infection spreading. This can be achieved as easily as opening windows.
5. Regularly disinfect all common surfaces
If you aren’t already doing so, make it a policy to regularly disinfect all common surfaces such as doors, handles, work surfaces and kitchen and bathroom areas with a strong disinfectant.