he rising number of COVID-19 infections around the globe sounds scary. You could think that no matter what we do, the virus keeps spreading, and we can’t really be sure how exactly does it transmit, except for some general knowledge.
Although the situation is still new and therefore some research might be insufficient of data–anything that provides us with more information about the virus moves us further towards defeating it.
It seems that we already know plenty–we just need to look a little further, beyond the latest news coverage.
Where Are the Most COVID-19 Cases?
If we knew something about the patterns in which COVID-19 is transmitted, for example in what settings it usually spreads, we could adapt and be especially cautious there. Of course, we still need to maintain hand hygiene, social distancing, and all other advised mitigation measures.
It seems that we can find some clues. Please note, however, that the data we mention is unofficial, it has been published by mistake by Czech Republic officials and has been later commented as with “reduced informative value”. However, according to novinky.cz, an official document sent later to their office had different numbers only for October.
Workplace seems to be the number one for virus transmission the whole year round with a total share of 38.9%. The second biggest factor (23,9%) is of all the cases with unknown origin but then, the third setting is home, family, and spare time combined, with a share of 21,8%. The third could be combined with fourth situation as 14,5% cases have been reported as transmitted through ‘normal activities, without any specification’.
The other cases have been identified as:
While the exact distribution of cases might be different for other countries, the significance of workplace virus transmission can’t be overlooked. It’s also interesting that the presence of schools and events in the total share is so low.
Where Do COVID-19 Clusters Occur the Most Often?
Workplace safety is also at risk due to the clusters of COVID-19 cases. As reported by the European Centre for Disease Prevention, large clusters have been found in–apart from the healthcare–food packaging and processing sectors, in factories and manufacturing, mining sector, and in office settings across all European Union countries, EEA members, and the UK.
The report also notes that occupations are commonly linked to socioeconomic status which might affect the risk of COVID-19 contamination and mortality. The situation is also affected by the fact that up to 35% of work in the EU, EEA, and the UK can be done at home, leaving many essential sectors at higher risk than others.
It’s also worth noting that over 95% of the clusters were located in indoor settings. It seems, however, that outdoor work settings are still at risk of becoming a coronavirus outbreak cluster.
What contributes to COVID-19 clusters in work settings, such as in office spaces? The report points a few possible factors:
- sharing the same office space;
- sharing the same canteen space;
- meetings with multiple persons in the same room;
- staff socializing together in the community.
Although we might lack detailed data about COVID-19, there are already publications that went in-depth on the ways of coronavirus transmission–Transmission of 2019-nCoV Infection from an Asymptomatic Contact in Germany by Rothe, Schunk, Sothmann, Bretzel, Froeschl, and Wallrauch and Coronavirus Disease Outbreak in Call Center, South Korea by Park, Kim YM, Yi, Lee, Na, and Kim CB. Their works point out that participating in meetings and sharing the same office space are risk factors for contracting COVID-19.
How Can You Lower the Risk?
The same document from European Centre for Disease Prevention shares ideas on lowering the risk of COVID-19 cluster occurrence at work.
The first point is introducing robust policies on physical distancing, hygiene and cleaning, appropriate use of personal protective equipment and hand hygiene and–if possible–increased focus on testing for the coronavirus.
It is essential to use contact tracing and have protocols in place to address outbreaks and detect them as soon as possible.
Considerations for investigating cases and clusters of COVID-19 have been also published by WHO. When it comes to contact tracing, this example shows exactly how you can handle the situation at a workplace.
Making Your Workplace Safer
The data on the full spectrum of COVID-19 clusters in offices remain limited, but current state of knowledge is that the most common exposure is the lack of physical distancing, especially in indoor settings. Among the factors there is also a face-to-face contact with clients and lack of access to hand-washing facilities.
Hand sanitization is a fast and accessible way of killing COVID-19 on hands after a contact with a contaminated surface. Providing the sanitizer to your employees can positively influence their health as hand hygiene reduces the amount of unplanned day-offs. This could also mean that the risk of COVID-19 outbreak at the office might be lower.
But how to ensure that there is always the right amount of sanitizer and the policies introduced are followed? This is the job of SANI–the smart sanitizer that is self-manageable.
It sanitizes hands, orders refills, and tracks the hand sanitizer usage to give you a powerful weapon to fight viruses such as COVID-19.
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