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ER ALERT: Coronavirus – Update 31 January 2020

Updated: Feb 12

The outbreak of the coronavirus is having a material impact globally, with around 132 deaths reported in China so far and over 6,000 confirmed cases of the virus reported worldwide. Seven people have, at this date, tested positive to the coronavirus in Australia.

Many public organisations have already published statements about managing the risks posed by this virus, including State Departments of Education. Updates from the Commonwealth Department of Health can be viewed here.

Businesses and employers are being advised to take this virus seriously and to inform employees on symptoms to look out for and for employees to report any recent travel to China, including specific dates. It is important to note that the incubation period for the virus is believed to be up to two weeks during which a carrier will often not exhibit any symptoms.

The Australian Government Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy has confirmed that there is no need for alarm in Australia. He said Australia has well-established procedures to ensure people with illnesses travelling into the country are detected at the border. Additional measures for passengers travelling directly from Wuhan are in place.

According to the World Health Organization, “common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.” Currently, there is no specific treatment for this virus and no vaccine to prevent it. World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines can be accessed here.

Employers should note what action to take in advance of any health crisis, including workplace health and safety, alternative working arrangements and access to leave entitlements.

Please click here for more information on the coronavirus and best workplace practices to undertake. This information can also be accessed by HBIA members via the ERMS.

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