Staying at home until a Covid-19 vaccine is created sounds like a great idea but it’s impractical. As risky as returning to the workplace may seem - the economy and our wallets simply won’t be able to bear it.
Now that schools have begun to gradually open, more businesses are gearing up to reopen as well, but some industries place workers at a higher risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19 than others. By knowing your level of risk at work, you will be able to act according to protect yourself and those at home.
The level of risk depends in part on the industry type and the preventative measures put in place in the work environment to ensure the safety of workers. Your risk of contracting the virus may vary from very high to high, medium, or low (caution) risk.
Very High Exposure Risk
Very high exposure risk jobs are those with high potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of COVID-19 during specific medical, post mortem, or laboratory procedures. Workers in this category include:
Healthcare workers (e.g. doctors, nurses, dentists, paramedics, emergency medical technicians) performing aerosol-generating procedures (e.g. intubation, cough induction procedures, bronchoscopies, some dental procedures and exams, or invasive specimen collection) on known or suspected COVID-19 patients.
Healthcare or laboratory personnel collecting or handling specimens from known or suspected COVID-19 patients (e.g. manipulating cultures from known or suspected COVID-19 patients).
Morgue workers performing autopsies, which generally involve aerosol-generating procedures, on the bodies of people who are known to have, or suspected of having, COVID-19 at the time of their death.
High Exposure Risk
High exposure risk jobs are those with high potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of COVID-19. Workers in this category include:
Healthcare delivery and support staff (e.g. doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff who must enter patients rooms) exposed to known or suspected COVID-19 patients. (Note: when such workers perform aerosol-generating procedures, their exposure risk level becomes very high.)
Medical transport workers (e.g. ambulance personnel and porters) moving known or suspected COVID-19 patients in enclosed vehicles.
Mortuary workers involved in preparing (e.g. for burial or cremation) the bodies of people who are known to have, or suspected of having COVID-19 at the time of their death.
Medium Exposure Risk
Medium exposure risk jobs include those that require frequent and/or close contact with (i.e. within 2 meters of) people who may be infected with SARS-CoV-2, but who are not known or suspected COVID-19 patients.
Workers in this category may have contact with the general public (e.g. in schools, high-population-density work environments, such as labour centres, consulting rooms, point of entry personnel, travellers returning from international locations with widespread COVID-19 transmission, and those in high-volume retail settings).
Lower Exposure Risk
Lower exposure risk (caution) jobs are those that do not require contact with people known to be or suspected of being infected with SARS-CoV-2, nor frequent close contact with (i.e. within 2 meters of) the general public.
Workers in this category have minimal occupational contact with the public and other co-workers.
If you fall into one of these categories, the best thing you can do is take all the necessary precautions to prevent infection. If you think you might be infected with Covid-19, complete the Western Cape's COVID-19 Risk Assessment Form which is based on the NICD case definition before consulting your doctor.
If you work in an office environment, read more on what you can do to stay safe here: https://tinyurl.com/ycr7s7pm