Hazard Alert Health Risk Advice

12 March 2020

Hazard Alert

Health Risk Advice – 12th March 2020

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

An outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in late December 2019. Secom is closely monitoring the situation and consolidating information from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Centre of Disease Control (CDC) and Federal Government. The health and safety of our employees, contractors and visitors is our highest priority therefore precautionary measures are being put place in response to the evolving novel coronavirus situation.


Can staff (including contractors) and visitors go to Secom Offices?

In the following scenarios staff cannot attend a Secom Office if they have:

  • Left, or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days (they must isolate themselves for 14 days from leaving mainland China).
  • Left, or transited through Iran on or after 1 March (they must isolate themselves until 14 days after leaving Iran).
  • Left, or transited through any countries now identified as ‘high risk’ zones by the World Health Organisation or other authorised bodies on or after 1 March (they must isolate themselves until 14 days after leaving the country in question).
  • Been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus in the last 14 days (they must isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case).


What does isolate in your home or residence mean?

People who must be isolated should not attend public places, in particular work, school, childcare or public areas. Only people who usually reside in their home or other place of residence should be permitted on the premises. Do not allow visitors into the home or residence. There is no need to wear masks in the home or residence. Where possible, get others such as friends or family, who are not required to be isolated to get food or other necessities for you. If people affected must leave the home or residence, such as to seek medical care, they are instructed to wear a surgical mask if they have one.


Staff member who is unable to work because they are sick regardless of the cause:

Sick leave is the appropriate form of leave.


Leave Arrangements for Secom Employees to care for children directed to stay home from school/ day-care

Following the announcement by the Government, employees of Secom who have children that are not able to attend school (due to recent travel to China) can access Personal Carers Leave to care for children at home.


Leave Arrangements for Secom Employees who are required to be isolated at home for the duration of 14 days

In such circumstances managers should advise Secom staff to work from home. If this flexible work arrangement is not practical or there is no facility to work from home, employees are required to take personal leave or leave without pay.


What is this virus?

Coronaviruses can make humans and animals sick. Some coronaviruses can cause illness similar to the common cold and others can cause more serious diseases, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The virus seen in Hubei Province, China is called ‘novel’ because it is new. It had not been detected before this outbreak. Most people infected live in, or travelled to, Hubei Province, China. There have been cases of 2019-nCoV reported in other Chinese provinces and other countries. It is likely that the virus originally came from an animal, and there is evidence that it can spread from person-to-person.


What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include (but are not limited to) fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath.


If a visitor/staff member develops symptoms, they should:

  • Isolate themselves in a single room away from others and seek an urgent medical review;
  • When possible, isolate themselves at home while waiting for results of the assessment;
  • Call a doctor or hospital ahead of time and tell them they may have novel coronavirus infection;
  • Tell the doctor’s clinic or hospital again when they arrive that they may have novel coronavirus infection.
  • When seeking medical care wear a surgical mask (if available) otherwise ask for one when you If the person has severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath: contact emergency services on 000
  • Inform Secom Management the visitor/staff may have novel coronavirus infection;
  • Staff and visitors should be excluded from attending Secom Offices and Site Locations until they are assessed by their primary care provider. The primary care provider will liaise with the public health authorities to determine when it is safe for them to return to work or vocational


What if I don’t have Medicare?

To support the NSW response to coronavirus, people will not be charged out of pocket expenses who are:

  • not eligible for Medicare, and;
  • presenting to NSW Health facilities for coronavirus

Most people that are not eligible for Medicare will have health or travel insurance. For those that do not have adequate insurance coverage, NSW Health will cover these costs. These arrangements have been put in place to ensure payment issues are not a barrier for people from overseas with respiratory symptoms seeking early medical advice.


How can we help prevent the spread of 2019-nCoV?

Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses. Encourage all visitors and staff to:

  • Wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser;
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Stay home when they are sick;
  • To cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve, then throw the tissue in the


Do face masks protect against the virus? Which face masks?

Face masks are not recommended for the general population. People who have symptoms and might be infected with novel coronavirus are required to stay in isolation at home and should wear a surgical face mask when in the same room as another person and when seeking medical advice to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to anyone else. Health care workers who are caring for patients with suspected novel coronavirus should use P2 masks to protect against the virus, but these must be fit tested and worn properly.


I have a work trip should I cancel?

All Secom travel to China and Iran has been suspended for the time being. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has also raised the level of advice for:

  • Italy (several regions, including Lombardia and Veneto);
  • Japan;
  • South Korea (Daegu and Cheongdo);
  • Mongolia

In view of this situation, and in accordance with our duty of care to staff

  1. All Secom travel requests should assess the benefits and risks related to upcoming travel plans based on the latest advice from http://www.smartraveller.gov.au
  2. Secom overseas travel requests must be accompanied by a Risk Assessment Form
  3. All travel to locations reporting Coronavirus will need to be communicated to Senior Management and Business Efficiency Department to get the up to date instructions before the trip. Because coronavirus can be more serious in older adults and those with chronic medical conditions, people in these groups should talk to their manager and consider postponing travel to destinations with heightened


I have travelled to a country of interest recently – do I need to self-isolate for 14 days at home?

We do not currently recommend self-isolation for visitors or users returning from these locations other than mainland China and Iran. However, if they become unwell they should contact their supervisor and seek medical attention as soon as possible. If your doctor recommends you are tested for Coronavirus, you should self-isolate and exclude yourself from work until your test result is available.


Is it safe to receive a letter or a package from China?

Yes it is safe to receive deliveries and packages from China? From analysis conducted by the World Health Organisation, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages. Staff working with cargo and mail, and other processing areas are not considered to be at a high risk. PPE in the form of gloves, gowns, eye protection or face shields is not considered necessary when performing these roles. However, frequent handwashing (including the proper use of alcohol-based sanitisers) and cough etiquette should still be practiced in this setting. If you elect to wear disposable gloves, or other PPE items, regular hand hygiene is still required and care taken to avoid breaching the glove material.


Where can I get more information?

  • Visit the Australian Government Department of Health homepage at health.gov.au.
  • National Coronavirus Health Information Line 1800 020 080
  • Visit NSW Health – Novel coronavirus
  • Visit the World Health Organization