Minister of Health Renward Wells.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
DECLARING the workplace a COVID-19 “hotspot”, health officials revealed data has suggested that workplace establishments and mass gatherings may be the leading environments of exposure to the novel coronavirus.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan made the revelation Friday and acknowledged the statistics on COVID-19 exposure were not as complete as officials would like them to be.
However, she said the data has shown so far that 41 per cent or 447 confirmed cases were exposed to the virus in the workplace or mass gatherings during the second wave.
This was followed by household or “friend” settings, which accounted for 35 percent or 387 exposures.
Dr McMillan also said there have been instances where as many as 12 employees had tested COVID-19 positive from one particular establishment.
“With regards to exposures, data exists for 31 per cent of the cases. Of this (31 percent), 41 per cent of persons…infected with COVID-19 have reported their exposure to have occurred in the workplace or a mass gathering setting,” she said.
“Another 35 per cent reported exposure from household or friends. We remind the public that the Ministry of Health have developed workplace guidelines and have adapted an assessment tool to improve their ability to prepare and maintain a level of readiness.
“We also implore business to have their human resource managers or health and safety officers register and take the nationally adapted online contact tracing course.”
Speaking on the issue on Friday, Health Minister Renward Wells deemed the workplace “a hot spot.”
Despite the high number of COVID-19 cases in the country, Mr Wells said there are some individuals who still have decided to carry on with their lives as normal, presenting a risk to them and their families.
“With the relaxation of restrictions, some have decided to go back to business as usual, including their social lives,” she said. “Some have decided to attend planned social events like showers, dinner and birthday parties where they may contract or spread COVID-19.
“These same persons go home to their families where the virus is spread. These individuals also spread COVID-19 to their co-workers. Now, we have a consistent trend of workplace exposure requiring a constant cycle of quarantining, deep cleaning and sanitization.”
“The workplace is now a ‘hotspot’.”
In August, health officials revealed that uniform branches led the way in terms of contacts’ workplace exposure by occupation, followed by health workers and those in the category of trade, utility and construction.
At the time, ‘family exposure’ and the workplace were considered leading causes of contact exposure to COVID.
Government officials say their agencies have since introduced a number of protocols to better protect workers against the COVID threat.