The Body Corporate’s Role in Protecting Their Communities During the Coronavirus Outbreak
March 9, 2020
On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization [WHO] declared the coronavirus [COVID-19] outbreak a public emergency of national concern. As of 8 March 2020, the number of confirmed cases exceeds 100,000 across 100 countries. Most cases continue to be concentrated in the Hubei province of China. A list of affected countries can be found here and note that the WHO updates this list daily.
According to the WHO, common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, and shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Bodies corporate should consider the following active actions to prevent and respond to any outbreak of COVID-19 whilst tending to body corporate responsibilities.
- Preventative Measures
Holding meetings at the office of the body corporate manager
The following practical measures are aimed to reduce likelihood of infection and spread:
- Accessibility to hand sanitization units;
- If your body corporate manager is returning from overseas holidays, recommend they be quarantined for the 14-day period and tested;
- Inquiry if meeting rooms and offices are being disinfected; and
- All staff and clients are asked to wash your hands thoroughly, avoid unnecessary physical contact and follow the health management guidelines.
At Archers, we have implemented a Business Continuity Policy – COVID19, which includes responsibly preventative measures and details our response in specific circumstances. This policy can be provided to the committee on request.
Holding meetings on site at the building
When attending a meeting on-site, for the protection of the body corporate manager, committee and other participants, the following preventative measures should be considered:
- Ensure all tables are wiped clean with disinfectant before and after the meetings;
- All water offered should be in bottle form and disposed of post meeting; and
- Recommend the Chairperson inquire if anyone in attendance have experienced any flu-like symptoms or travelled to an affected country within the last 14-days. If so, this person should attend the meeting via video or telephone conference.
At Archers, we have the facilities to provide video and telephone conferencing for meetings of up to 250 participants and should you wish to utilise these resources during this time, please contact your body corporate manager to arrange for your upcoming meeting.
- Emergency response
In the event of a declared COVID-19 emergency, the following action to manage the situation should be considered:
- If an individual presents with flu like symptoms, the recommendation outlined by the WHO should be considered, which can be found here.
- If an individual is diagnosed with COVID-19 they should undertake a 14-day self-quarantine and communicate the diagnosis to anyone in contact with them during the past 14-days as to limit the potential for additional spread of the virus. At the end of the quarantine period, if the individual is no longer exhibiting symptoms this should also be communicated.
- If a building becomes infected, notify the WHO of the outbreak and close the building for the quarantine period.
Always adopt the following health management guidelines:
- Avoid contact with live animals including poultry and birds, and consumption of raw and undercooked meats;
- Avoid crowded places and close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness;
- Observe good personal hygiene;
- Practise frequent hand washing with soap (e.g. before handling food or eating, after going to the toilet, or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing);
- Cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and dispose the soiled tissue in the rubbish bin immediately;
- Seek medical attention promptly if you are feeling unwell;
- Wash hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water;
- Before and after preparing food
- After going to the toilet
- Before and after eating
- After coughing and sneezing
- Maintain good indoor ventilation ;
- Avoid sharing food, cutlery, crockery, utensils and other personal hygiene items; and
- Avoid physical contact such as shaking hands and avoid touching your face or rubbing your eyes.
Maintain good personal hygiene, including hand washing with soap and water, or the use of alcohol-based hand rubs. Proper hand washing requires soap and water. The constant rubbing action helps soap break down the grease and dirt that carry most germs. Washing your hands for at least 15 to 30 seconds with soap reduces germ count by up to 99%.
This article was contributed by Nicky Lonergan, CEO – Archers the Strata Professionals