Novel coronavirus is certainly drawing a fair share of attention in the media. In the last week we have witnessed the number of cases grow across Australian and globally. With global confirmed cases of novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV now exceeding 12,000 (WHO, 1 February 2020), there’s probably no better time to consider protecting your mining camp from the Coronavirus 2019-nCoV.
While the limitation of human-to-human transmission is fundamental to preventing the spread of disease, mining companies should consider a range of other strategies to minimise potential exposure to the virus. The rationale is simple. The substantial risk to personnel and operations through the spread of a communicable disease like 2019-nCoV.
We have assembled some tips, based on current accepted WHO control methodologies to minimise exposure to the disease in mining camps.
Tip One – Ensure that key staff in medical advisory roles both in corporate and site are trained in understanding the Coronavirus 2019-nCoV. The World Health organisation has developed an online course to provide general introduction to emerging respiratory viruses, including novel coronaviruses.
Tip Two – Develop a corporate strategy for controlling the disease should it emerge within the organisation. With that infectious disease control policy, procedures and practices mining companies should ensure that the organisation communicates critical risk and event information to all mining communities and counter misinformation. In addition ensuring a plan is available to early identify, isolate and care for affected persons that may arrive on-site inadvertently, including providing optimised care for infected patients;
Tip Three – Ensure that adequate equipment is available to prevent transmission or amplification of the disease at high-risk workplaces such as mining camps. Medical staff who may potentially care for a patient with suspected novel coronavirus should use P2 masks to protect against the virus. Obviously fit testing is imperative.
Tip Four – Anyone employee who has been in contact with any confirmed novel Coronavirus cases must self-isolate (self-isolation means staying at home and not accepting visitors) for 14 days following exposure;
Tip Five – Staff who have travelled to or who have visited Hubei Province of China need to self-isolate for 14 days after leaving Hubei Province;
Tip Six – Returned travellers who have visited China should not attend work, or travel to a mining camp for 14 days after leaving China including Hong Kong.
Tip Seven – Cease all travel of staff to affected areas.
Tip Eight – Consider the impact on business operation for non-supply of China manufactured products. We understand that many factories and suppliers have been required to cease operation over the period since the initial spread of disease. If your business is reliant on supply or critical products from China, you should examine alternative sources.
While novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a threat (particularly for China based staff) a range of strategies are now available to help prevent and limit the spread of disease. Past experience with communicable disease in mining camps has shown that transmission rates can be high if the disease is not identified and isolated early.
If you are unwell, please contact your GP, emergency department or the healthdirect helpline 1800 022 222.
**This story was updated 1/2/2020 to provide recommendations consistent with Government Policy.
The information in this post is general in nature and should not be relied on as a comprehensive means for prevention of the spread of novel coronavirus. Please consult with you state health authority for more detailed strategies.
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