Enterprise Health has a number of employer clients with operations in China, as well as U.S. based health system clients who are making contingency plans in case the Coronavirus spreads in this country. Dr. Peter Lee, who chairs our clinical advisory board, has put together the following summary:
Employers should do their best to stay current on the outbreak and adapt infection control strategies to protect workers from exposure. This is especially true for organizations that have employees with planned travel to China as well as those with permanent or extended-term employees in the country. Here’s what to keep in mind:
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It is transmissible from human to human, mostly via respiratory routes, but China has stated that oral fecal is also likely.
While there is still a great deal to learn about the virus, experts suggest that it has a reproductive value (r0) of around 2.5. This means that every person who has been infected is infecting ~2.5 others. r0 also tells us how contagious a bug is and can provide guidance around containment in order to slow the spread down.
The fatality rate, based on available data, is shaping up to be around 2 percent. Most fatalities have been with people over 65 with chronic health conditions.
Consider making travel to China business-critical only. Many companies have halted entering the country all together.
Anyone traveling out of China should self-monitor for fever and flu-like symptoms for 14 days. If any fever or flu-like symptoms start, do not come into work. More specifically, individuals from Hubei province should be quarantined for 14 days with or without symptoms. (The Chinese government has locked down all transportation in and out of this province so it is unlikely to have travelers from this area.)
Within China, the Chinese central government is coordinating the response and has extended the New Year holidays in some areas until the end of February (no school, for example). In other areas, people have started returning home with anticipated return to work either this week or next. Pay close attention to local directives.
Consider work-from-home options to minimize risk.
Products coming out of China are generally considered safe at this time.
Most important of all, encourage employees to keep their distance from those exhibiting flu-like symptoms and wash hands! Good hygiene goes a long way to halt any viral spread.
Dr. Peter Lee is the Chair of Enterprise Health’s Clinical Advisory Board.