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By Alfred Peregrino-Solomon

(Credit WHO)

Travel and Tourism

The travel and tourism sector and the people who work in it are often hugely impacted when global pandemic outbreaks occur. WHO is providing updated advice and guidance for the travel and tourism sector to help protect their employees and address critical issues, concerns, and questions in regards to travel recommendations and advice and detailed guidance on what the sector could do to minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

Individuals and Communities

For most individuals and various communities the world over, it is very important to be aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak. This information is readily available on the World Health Organization (WHO) website and through most national or local public health authorities. Most people who become infected experience mild or moderate symptoms and recover, but the disease can be more severe for others – more especially for people with underlying medical conditions. Take care of your health and protect others.

Basic Protective Measures for Everyone:

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly

Why? We frequently use our hands to touch objects and surfaces that may be contaminated. Without realizing it, we then touch our faces, transferring viruses to our eyes, nose and mouth where they can infect us. Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands – including the new coronavirus. 

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

Cover your cough with the bend of your elbow or tissue

Why? Droplets spread viruses. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

Avoid crowded places

Why? Maintain at least 2 metres (6 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who has a cough or is sneezing. This aptly termed “social distance” also means that you should avoid greeting people who have those symptoms with a kiss or by shaking hands.

Stay at home if you feel unwell – even with a slight fever and cough

Why? By staying at home, and not going to work or other places, you will recover faster and will avoid transmitting diseases to other people.

If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early – but call by phone first

Why? If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, stay at home and call your doctor or local health professional. He or she will ask some questions about your symptoms, where you have been and who you have had contact with

Stay aware of the latest information from

Make sure your information comes from reliable sources — your local or national public health agency, the WHO website, or your local health professional. Everyone should know the COVID-19 symptoms — for most people, it starts with a dry cough, not a runny nose. 

Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where covid-19 is spreading:

Follow the guidance outlined above (protection measures for everyone)

Self-isolate by staying at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache, low grade fever (37.3 C or above) and slight runny nose, until you recover. If it is essential for you to have someone bring you supplies or to go out, e.g. to buy food, then wear a mask to avoid infecting other people.

Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Make contact by telephone in advance of your visit and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers.

Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.

Health Sector

The health sector, including healthcare workers and professionals are the backbone of a country’s defenses to save lives and limit the spread of disease. They play a central and critical role in global response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic. Health workers face higher risks of potential COVID-19 infection in their efforts to protect the greater community and are exposed to hazards such as psychological distress, fatigue and stigma.  WHO is providing essential advice, guidance and training for the health sector in critical areas from infection prevention and control, clinical management to health worker rights and protection and mental health.


Recommendations for health workers with high risk for infection:

  • Stop all health care interaction with patients for a period of 14 days after the last day of exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 patient;
  • Be tested for COVID-19 virus infection;
  • Quarantine for 14 days in a designated setting.

Recommendations for health workers with low risk for COVID-19 infection:

  • Self-monitor temperature and respiratory symptoms daily for 14 days after the last day of exposure to a COVID-19 patient. Health workers should be advised to call health care facility if he/she develop any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19;
  • Reinforce contact and droplet precautions when caring for all patients with acute respiratory illness and standard precautions to take care of all patients; – Reinforce airborne precautions for aerosol generating procedures on all suspect and confirmed COVID-19 patients;
  • Reinforce the rational, correct and consistent use of personal protective equipment when exposed to confirmed COVID-19 patients;
  • Apply WHO’s “My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene” before touching a patient, before any clean or aseptic procedure, after exposure to body fluid, after touching a patient, and after touching patient’s surroundings;
  • Practice respiratory etiquette at all times.


Rights, roles & responsibilities

Health workers are at the front line of any outbreak response and as such are exposed to hazards that put them at risk of infection with an outbreak pathogen (in this case COVID-19). Hazards include pathogen exposure, long working hours; occupational and physical, fatigue, stigma, and physical and psychological violence. This document highlights the rights and responsibilities of health workers, including specific measures needed to protect occupational safety and health.

Staff Management

Health care facilities should:

  • Provide psychosocial support to health workers during quarantine, or duration of illness if a health workers becomes a confirmed COVID-19 case;
  • Provide compensation for the period of quarantine and for the duration of illness (if not on a monthly salary) or contract extension for duration of quarantine/illness;
  • Refresher infection prevention and control training for the health care facility staff, including health workers at high risk for infection once he/she returns to work at the end of the 14-day period.

Train all frontline workers (including nurses, ambulance drivers, volunteers, case identifiers, teachers and other community leaders), including workers in quarantine sites, on essential psychosocial care principles, psychological first aid and how to make referrals when needed.

  • COVID-19 treatment and isolation/ quarantine sites should include trained MHPSS staff. Online training might be used if it is not possible to bring staff together due to infection risks.
  • Training in psychological first aid can benefit leads/managers and workers in having the skills to provide the necessary support to colleagues.

Health care facilities should provide:

  • Psychosocial support to health workers during quarantine, or duration of illness if a health worker becomes a confirmed COVID-19 case;
  • Compensation for the period of quarantine and for the duration of illness (if not on a monthly salary) or contract extension for duration of quarantine/illness;
  • Refresher infection prevention and control training for the health care facility staff, including health workers at high risk for infection once he/she returns to work at the end of the 14-day period.

Health worker exposure & risk management intro & tools

This tool is to be used by health care facilities that have either cared for or admitted COVID-19 patients; it is to be completed for all health workers who have been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 patient in a healthcare facility. It will help determine the risk of COVID-19 virus infection of all health workers who have been exposed to a COVID-19 patient and then provides recommendations for appropriate management of these health workers, according to their infection risk. 

Rational use of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs)

This document summarizes WHO recommendations for the rational use of personal protective equipment (PPE), in health care and community settings, including the handling of cargo. This document is intended for those involved in the distribution and management of PPE, as well as public health authorities and individuals in health care and community settings to understand when PPE use is most appropriate.

Food and Agriculture Sectors

The Food and agriculture industry produce a large range of primary agricultural products and processed foods contributing to feeding most of the world population. Some large multinationals play a major role in the production and distribution of food worldwide, employing millions of staff and ensuring a steady food supply. WHO is providing advice and updated information on COVID-19 for the food industry and national authorities on the risk associated with producing and handling food and how to protect workers in the food industry and at retail in order to maintain food supplies.