COVID-19 Risk During Your Daily Work Commute
- As businesses reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, they must find new ways to operate that will keep their employees safe.
- In response, the ICMR has issued guidance for best practices when using transportation.
- They say solo commuting is the safest way to travel right now.
- They also offer advice for staying safe when you must use public transportation.
As businesses begin to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re faced with the challenge of finding new ways to operate to keep their employees safe. To assist businesses with this process, the ICMR and WHO recently released a set of guidelines for employers. These guidelines include recommendations for how employees can best stay safe while commuting to and from their jobs.
In particular, the ICMR recommends traveling either alone or with someone you live with whenever possible.
Health Ministry Guidelines
With the easing of the lockdown measures and with more offices/workplaces starting operations, the Ministry directed that anyone diagnosed as a suspected/confirmed case of COVID-19 should immediately inform the office authorities and isolate themselves.
While there was no need to close the entire office building/halt work if one or two cases were detected, a large outbreak would require that the building be shut down for 48 hours and disinfected, it stated.
The guidelines make it mandatory to maintain a physical distance of at least one metre to be followed at all times along with use of face covers/masks.
ICMR to relook
The Ministry also said that no decision has been taken as yet to replace hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), introduced as a game-changer to arrest the spread of COVID-19, as a prophylactic, with HIV combination drugs, after reports of experts demanding that it be dropped from the safety guideline list of drugs prescribed for high-risk persons, including healthcare workers.
With experts questioning the effectiveness of HCQ, a senior health official said the drug was under review “but no decision has been taken to drop it just yet”.
Since the COVID-19 situation was a dynamic one and now with the lockdown being relaxed, a relook was being done by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
“Practise frequent handwashing [for at least 40-60 seconds] even when hands are not visibly dirty and use of alcohol based hand sanitisers [for at least 20 seconds] and respiratory etiquettes are to be strictly followed. The respiratory etiquettes involve the strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues properly”, noted the Ministry.
Any staff requesting home quarantine based on the containment zone activities in their residential areas should be permitted to work from home. Also any staff reportedly suffering from flu-like illness should not attend office and seek medical advice from the local health authorities, it said.
The guidelines have been issued following a revision of the testing pattern where, in addition to earlier criteria, the strategy has been widened to include front line workers involved in containment and mitigation of COVlD-19, all hospitalised patients who develop Influenza Like Illness (lLl) symptoms and all symptomatic ILI among returnees and migrants within 7 days of illness.
Solo commuting is the safest option
The HM latest guidance suggests that avoiding public transportation is your best bet when it comes to preventing the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
Their guidance uses biking, walking, and driving your own personal vehicle as examples of suggested ways to commute.
In order to get more people to avoid public transportation, the HM suggests that employers should offer their workers incentives. Subways, buses, and carpools are places where people remain in close contact for an extended period of time.
If you don’t live with those people, it obviously increases the risk of exposure to coronavirus. By commuting individually or only sharing a car with people you live with, you minimize your exposure to others and reduce your risk of disease.
What steps should you take to make your commute as safe as possible?
No matter how you get to work, there are certain general recommendations you should follow:
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol before and after your trip.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes, throw used tissues in the trash, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after you cough or sneeze.
- Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and other people who don’t live in your household.
- Wear a cloth face covering when you aren’t able to maintain physical distance between yourself and others. Wearing a mask on public transportation signals to others that you’re trying to keep the community safe in addition to yourself.
- Stay home when you’re sick or have been near someone who has COVID-19.
- Limit your travel if you’re older or have a disability or underlying health condition that puts you at greater risk.
- If you are at greater risk, bring a “transportation buddy” with you to help with any special needs that you have, such as carrying bags.
What if you must take public transportation?
While traveling alone might be the best option in an ideal world, the HM has altered their recommendations to reflect the fact that not everyone will be able to do so.
If you are using public transportation or ride sharing in order to get to your job, they recommend following the above general guidelines as well as certain specific guidelines related to your particular mode of transportation.
The full set of guidelinesTrusted Source is available through their website. However, there are several additional important points that can be distilled from them:
- When using public transit, stay up-to-date on any changes to services and procedures. This is especially important if you require any special assistance.
- Avoid touching things. Make use of touchless payment methods and no-touch trash cans and doors whenever possible. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer as soon as possible after touching any frequently touched surfaces.
- Practice physical distancing. Travel during non-peak hours, if possible. Put at least 6 feet between yourself and other people. Follow any physical distancing markers like floor decals or signs that have been designated by your local transit authority.
- Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer as needed.
- Improve ventilation. If you’re in your own vehicle or a passenger in a ride share or taxi, try to improve the ventilation by opening windows or setting the air ventilation or air conditioning on non-recirculation mode.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces. Use disinfecting wipes to clean any frequently touched surfaces prior to use.
The bottom line
The above Health Ministry guidelines we all should follow but it totally depends on the mode of transportation, place of work, number of people and many more. Still the risk of covid 19 can be controlled depending upon individual responsibility commuting, how he follows the guideline and can he/she keeps himself safe.
So stay safe stay alert.
Shoot your thoughts in the comments below.
You can consult with us. Book an Appointment with our expert dietitians.
For more details you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Youtube.