According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. COVID-19 is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.
What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19?
WHO has listed respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties as common signs of infection. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and kidney failure. The infection may also be fatal. According to the Department of Health, as of 9 am of March 17, 2020, the total number of deaths in the Philippines due to COVID-19 is 12. Kindly note that some COVID-19 positive patients are asymptomatic or may not be presenting any symptoms.
How do we prevent infection and the spread of the virus?
According to WHO, standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular and proper hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and social distancing (at least 1 meter or 3 feet distance between yourself and anyone else). Avoid contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing. Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth. Practice good respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care and follow the directions of your local health authority. As much as possible, stay indoors and avoid large crowds.
PMAP Recommendations for HR Managers and CHROs in the midst of the COVID-19 situation
1. The top priority for HR should be putting people first. The safety and health of the employees, their families, and clients of the business should come first and foremost.
2. Mobilize your Crisis Management Team. Work on your contingency plans and business continuity strategies. Set-up a hotline/mobile number in the company that is designated to respond to employees’ concerns and queries on COVID-19. Provide further guidance on how their data will be handled.
3. Stay calm, but prepare and develop a plan for the worst-case scenario. The coronavirus causes uncertainty, fear and anxiety among employees — especially if employees think they could be exposed to the virus at work. HR, together with the Crisis Management Team, should be informed and updated on developments about the novel Coronavirus outbreak and assure employees that the management are doing their best in the interest of the people and the business.
4. Cancel ALL non-essential domestic and international travel. Business meetings and trips should be properly screened and approved by heads.
5. Restrict face-to-face contact and meetings. Cancel non-essential conferences, training and similar activities. Virtual town hall meetings, video and teleconferencing are highly encouraged.
6. Create a Travel Declaration Form for employees and the people in their household. Employees and family members in the same household, following an international travel, should be mandated to undergo self-quarantine for 14 days starting from the date of arrival in the Philippines. Philippines. (Sample of the Travel Declaration Form may be accessed) here.
7. All employees are required to declare to HR the following situations which may require self-quarantine for 14 days:
a. Employees living with family members who have a history of travel
b. Employees and family members in the same household who may have been exposed to a COVID-19 patient
c. Employees and family members living with the employee who may have been exposed to a PUI (Person Under Investigation)
d. Employees or family members living with the employee who may have been exposed to a PUM (Person Under Monitoring)
8. Provide a dedicated page on the company’s website for updates and information on the pandemic. Sending regular updates and reminders on preventive measures through text messages to employees are also encouraged.
9. Ensure that employees are properly equipped with the information and tools needed to prevent the spread of the disease. Provide employees with alcohol, soap, and information on proper hygiene and proper handwashing. Ensure that workplaces are sanitized and employees’ body temperature is taken upon entering work premises.
10. Flexible Work Arrangements are highly encouraged, but are still dependent on the job function of the employee and nature of the business.
11.Follow all directives of the National Government and your Local Government Units.
Over the past few days, PMAP has been collating issuances and releases from different relevant agencies as we track the latest developments on the COVID-19 outbreak. To aid the essential dissemination of information relevant to the outbreak, we have created a Drive for our members to stay updated on what is happening as new releases and advisories on the current pandemic are released. Access Official Issuances and Advisories from DOH, DOLE, DTI, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and other relevant agencies through this link.
You may also visit the following websites for relevant updates on COVID-19:
World Health Organization
Department of Health – Philippines
We highly encourage everyone to be part of the DOH PH COVID-19 Viber Group.
DOH Facebook page: OfficialDOHgov
DOH Hotline: 8-651-7800 loc 1149/1150
Be informed. Stay safe and sanitized.