Coronavirus: Attending an event or meeting? Consider these WHO precautions

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Take these precautions if you have to organise a meeting or event to prevent Coronavirus. (Photo: Pixabay)

In view of the increasing number of Coronavirus cases and more than 100 countries being affected, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released guidelines on organising gatherings, especially events, official meetings and the likes, while stating that unless absolutely essential, such meetings should be avoided or carried out remotely.

In a press release titled Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19, it said: "All sections of our society – including businesses and employers – must play a role if we are to stop the spread of this disease."

Here's a Twitter thread highlighting the same.

"Organizers of meetings & events need to think about the potential risk from #COVID19 because: While COVID-19 is a mild disease for most people, it can make some very ill. Around 1 in every 5 people who catch COVID-19 needs hospital treatment," WHO said.

Coronavirus

Notably, the novel Coronavirus spreads when someone with the disease coughs or exhales, releasing droplets of the infected fluid. If the droplets fall on surfaces of objects such as tables, desks or telephones and other people come in contact with the contaminated surfaces and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth, they too can get infected.

As per WHO, while people over 40 years seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40, those with weakened immune systems and conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease are also more vulnerable to serious illnesses.

Here are some precautions to take before a meeting or event, suggested WHO.

*Consider whether a face-to-face meeting or event is needed. Could it be replaced by a teleconference or online event?

*Could the meeting or event be scaled down so that fewer people attend it?

*Ensure and verify information and communication channels in advance with key partners such as public health and health care authorities.

*Pre-order sufficient supplies and materials including tissues and hand sanitiser for all participants. Have surgical masks available to offer anyone who develops respiratory symptoms.

*Actively monitor where COVID-19 is circulating. Advise participants in advance that if they have any symptoms or feel unwell, they should not attend.

*Develop and agree a response plan in case someone at the meeting becomes ill with symptoms of COVID-19 (dry cough, fever, malaise). This plan should include at least:

- Identify a room or area where someone who is feeling unwell or has symptoms can be safely isolated.
- Have a plan for how they can be safely transferred from there to a health facility.
- Know what to do if a meeting participant, staff member or service provider tests positive for COVID-19 during or just after the meeting.
- Agree the plan in advance with your partner healthcare provider or health department.

*Make sure all organisers, participants, caterers and visitors at the event provide contact details: mobile telephone number, email and address where they are staying. State clearly that their details will be shared with local public health authorities if any participant becomes ill with a suspected infectious disease. If they do not agree to this they cannot attend the event or meeting.

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Precautions during a meeting or event

*Provide detailed information and measures, both orally and in writing, on COVID-19 and what the organisers are doing to make the event safe for all.

*Rather than a handshake, encourage other ways of saying hello.

*Encourage regular handwashing with an alcohol-based sanitiser for all participants.

*Encourage participants to cover their face with the bend of their elbow or a tissue if they cough or sneeze. Supply tissues and closed bins to dispose them.

*Provide contact details or a health hotline number that participants can call for advice or to give information.

Coronavirus dos and don'ts

Coronavirus dos and don'ts

Post the meeting or event measures

*Retain the names and contact details of all participants for at least one month. This will help public health authorities trace people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 if one or more participants become ill shortly after the event.

*If someone at the meeting or event was isolated as a suspected COVID-19 case, the organiser should let all participants know this. They should be advised to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days and take their temperature twice a day.

*If they develop even a mild cough or low-grade fever (or a temperature of 37.3 C or more) they should stay at home and self-isolate. This means avoiding close contact (one meter or nearer) with other people, including family members. They should also contact their healthcare provider or the local public health department, giving them details of their recent travels and symptoms.