The Union Health Ministry announced fresh workplace guidelines on Tuesday.
With the easing of the lockdown measures and with more offices/workplaces starting operations, the Ministry directed that anyone diagnosed as a suspected/confirmed case of COVID-19 should immediately inform the office authorities and isolate themselves.
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While there was no need to close the entire office building/halt work if one or two cases were detected, a large outbreak would require that the building be shut down for 48 hours and disinfected, it stated.
The guidelines make it mandatory to maintain a physical distance of at least one metre to be followed at all times along with use of face covers/masks.
ICMR to relook
The Ministry also said that no decision has been taken as yet to replace hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), introduced as a game-changer to arrest the spread of COVID-19, as a prophylactic, with HIV combination drugs, after reports of experts demanding that it be dropped from the safety guideline list of drugs prescribed for high-risk persons, including healthcare workers.
With experts questioning the effectiveness of HCQ, a senior health official said the drug was under review “but no decision has been taken to drop it just yet”.
Since the COVID-19 situation was a dynamic one and now with the lockdown being relaxed, a relook was being done by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
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Virus cases in office
India on Tuesday reported 5,680 new cases, taking the tally to 1,06,425, according to data from the State Health Departments. The number of active cases stood at 60,885, while 42,224 people have recovered. With 158 deaths on Tuesday, the toll rose to 3,316.
India on Tuesday reported 4,970 new cases and 134 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the total number to 1,01,139 and 3,163 deaths. The country currently has 58,802 active cases, according to figures released by the Ministry.
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In the last 24 hours, a total of 2,350 patients had been cured. “So far, a total of 39,174 patients have been cured of COVID-19. This means that “The country is registering a recovery rate of 38.73%The rate is improving continuously,’’ noted a Ministry release. A record number of 1,08,233 samples were tested on Monday, taking the total so far to 24,25,742, it said.
“Practise frequent handwashing [for at least 40-60 seconds] even when hands are not visibly dirty and use of alcohol based hand sanitisers [for at least 20 seconds] and respiratory etiquettes are to be strictly followed. The respiratory etiquettes involve the strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues properly”, noted the Ministry.
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Any staff requesting home quarantine based on the containment zone activities in their residential areas should be permitted to work from home. Also any staff reportedly suffering from flu-like illness should not attend office and seek medical advice from the local health authorities, it said.
The guidelines have been issued following a revision of the testing pattern where, in addition to earlier criteria, the strategy has been widened to include front line workers involved in containment and mitigation of COVlD-19, all hospitalised patients who develop Influenza Like Illness (lLl) symptoms and all symptomatic ILI among returnees and migrants within 7 days of illness.