Information for employers: COVID-19—Distributed: March 12, 2020, to Workplace Health Network
Distributed: March 12, 2020, to Workplace Health Network
We are writing to provide timely information on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).
As you have likely read through recent media reports and our public communications, the first positive case of COVID-19 in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts was confirmed on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. We recognize that this local development is of relevance to workplaces and employers. This letter provides details about the situation and what you and your employees can do to protect yourselves.
The person who tested positive for COVID-19 in the Sudbury and Manitoulin Districts is a male in his 50s who presented himself to the emergency department at Health Sciences North on March 7, 2020. Having a confirmed case in our area is not unexpected given the transmission of this virus around the world.
Although this is concerning, as a community and as a health system, we have been preparing for COVID-19. While the Public Health investigation is ongoing, it is known that on March 2 and 3, this individual attended the PDAC (Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada) 2020 convention in Toronto. Our local focus is on breaking the chain of transmission to limit the spread of infection.
As a precautionary measure, we are asking those who attended PDAC 2020 to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days since they last attended the conference.
COVID-19 symptoms and testing for infection
Symptoms include fever or cough or difficulty breathing. If people experience symptoms, they are directed to self-isolate as quickly as possible and immediately call their health care professionals or Public Health to make arrangements to be tested. Anyone who is ill and who must visit a health care professional is required to call ahead and advise of their potential respiratory illness. You may be asked to wear a mask while waiting for or receiving treatment to prevent the spread of illness. If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 and mention your travel history and symptoms.
Symptoms of COVID-19 infection can range from minor to severe. Complications of COVID-19 can include serious conditions, like pneumonia or kidney failure, and in some cases, death.
Individuals who do not develop symptoms do not need to self-isolate. Public Health encourages everyone to use good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette practices.
Risk of infection
While the risk to our community remains low, we encourage you to stay informed by regularly visiting Public Health Sudbury & Districts’ website at www.phsd.ca for updates and resources.
Treatment for COVID-19
At this time, there are no specific treatments for COVID-19 infection, and there is no vaccine available. Most people with novel coronavirus infection will recover on their own.
Guidance for workplaces
Public Health Sudbury & Districts encourages employers to be proactive and provide support to your workplaces and employees to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Below you will find resources for your reference that we encourage you to review.
What you can do to prepare for COVID-19:
- Emphasize the need to stay home when sick, follow respiratory etiquette, and practice proper hand hygiene.
- Perform routine environmental cleaning.
- Have plans for business continuity in the event of prolonged staff absences.
- Consider not requiring a sick leave note as that would put unnecessary pressures on health care services.
- Advise employees before they travel to:
- Consult the Government of Canada website for travel advice related to the novel coronavirus to make an informed decision on whether or not to travel.
- Know that Public Health Agency of Canada and Ontario Ministry of Health advise that all travellers monitor their health for fever, cough, and breathing difficulty for 14 days after arriving back in Canada.
- If symptoms do occur, individuals are directed to self-isolate as quickly as possible and immediately call their health care professionals or Public Health to make arrangements to be tested. Some returning travellers may be asked to self-isolate upon their return.
- Keep up-to-date: The most up-to-date information is available on our website at www.phsd.ca/COVID-19. There, you will also find links to information for the public that will assist you in talking about COVID-19 with your employees and with your own families. This includes messages such as simple, easy, and routine hygiene practices that can reduce the spread of germs and help you and your family stay healthy. These practices include:
- Washing your hands often.
- Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Not touching your face.
- Keeping up-to-date on vaccinations.
- Staying home when you are not feeling well.
- Cleaning areas that are touched frequently.
- Prepare for workplace shortages: Although it is not currently the situation, in time, COVID-19 could potentially begin spreading in the community, and employers or employees could become infected or find themselves needing to provide care for dependents who are ill. We encourage you to develop contingency plans to prepare for and mitigate possible workforce shortages.
Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illness. We encourage you to print and display information about preventing the spread of illness in key locations in your workplace. The following posters are available for your use: 8.5 x 11” handout, 8.5 x 11” bilingual handout and 11 x 17″ poster.
More information for workplaces to protect customers, contractors, and employees can also be found at:
- Health Canada (scroll down: For Workplaces)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (PDF)
Please contact Public Health Sudbury & Districts for additional information at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200). Public Health’s social media accounts (French and English) also share timely and relevant information about COVID-19—follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
This item was last modified on March 13, 2020