Work from home plan advised

July 27, 2020

(To watch the full press briefing with sign language interpretation, click here.)


The Centre for Health Protection today called on employers to adopt work from home arrangements to prevent a community-wide COVID-19 outbreak.


With the number of new cases increasing daily, the centre's Communicable Disease Branch Head Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan said the centre is worried about the trend.


She used elderly home clusters as one example when expressing her concern over the surge in coronavirus cases.


"I think the elderly home clusters are a reflection of the community outbreak because if you have a community-wide outbreak, you will also affect the elderly homes - because there are workers working there and some seniors in the elderly homes can go out and get infected.


"So, of course, the elderly home have already stepped up infection control measures, restricted the sharing of staff and tightened up infection control measures, but preventing the spread is very difficult because we have a community outbreak outside, so it is very difficult to isolate those in elderly homes and prevent them from getting infected."


Dr Chuang said the main strategy is to control the community outbreak at large to prevent the further extension of infections to elderly homes.


She urged employers to allow their staff to work from home whenever possible.


“In general, we advise employers, if they can, please make home office arrangements for their employees to prevent an outbreak.


"If it is necessary to work at the office, try to reduce the number of the employees, ask them to wear masks during work, stagger lunch hours and try to prevent workers from gathering or having lunch together without masks.”


Dr Chuang explained why conducting contact tracing immediately is so critical once an employee becomes infected.


"If some of the workers in companies or restaurants are infected, before we can get in touch with the company owners, maybe they can make home office arrangements or try and stop restaurant services as far as feasible and get a list of the workers and other people who may have come in contact with the infected cases and then wait for our call to define who are close contacts and who are not.


"In general, close contacts are people who may have come into contact with the worker two days before the onset of symptoms and until isolation. But if there are more workers infected, we will be worried that there may be an outbreak earlier on. So we strongly advise those premises to close and disinfect."

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