DYNAMIQ IN THE NEWS: PROTECTING YOUR BUSINESS AND PEOPLE IN EBOLA AFFECTED AREAS

Introduction

The 2014 Ebola outbreak is one of the largest Ebola outbreaks in history. It is affecting: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone, reports indicate possible cases in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), however, these are currently not confirmed by The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or  the World Health Organisation (WHO). The above map, published by the CDC, details the current outbreak footprint.

Dynamiq have a number clients based in West Africa and we have been approached for advice and assistance regarding the Ebola outbreak in country and how they should respond. In a situation such as an outbreak, verified information updates often lag the situation by 2-3 days. Ultimately there are only 2 or 3 reliable sources who control any real information coming out West Africa on the Ebola outbreak and these are who Dynamiq would utilise for the most up to date information.  These are WHO and CDC predominately.  Many illnesses characterized by fever in West Africa are being labelled as suspected Ebola without a true diagnosis due to the increasing profile of the outbreak.

General Information 

To date most of the cases of Ebola infection have been in persons or healthcare workers attending to Ebola cases or burials. This is close contact which is defined as having cared for or lived with a person known to have Ebola or having a high likelihood of direct contact with blood or body fluids of a Ebola patient. Examples include kissing, embracing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, close conversation ( < 3 feet), physical examination or any other direct contact. This does not include walking by a person or sitting across a room.  Persons attending to dead bodies are also at high risk of exposure.

Ebola infection is easily contained, access to basic medical resources - gloves, mask and gowns will largely protected from Ebola infection. A basic isolation capability is all that is required to curtail any spread of infection – there are no technical or complicated isolation measures that need to take place to avoid infection. The risk is very low for anyone who is not coming into CLOSE CONTACT with infected individuals, bush meats or corpses.  Although Ebola is considered highly contagious it is not considered highly transmittable.  Basic infection control and regular hand washing are critical to preventing the disease spreading. Education on these simple measures is critical in reducing the potential for infections.  

The distribution of cases is as follows:

Location

Suspected Cases

Suspected Fatal Cases

Guinea

1008

632

Sierra Leone

1813

593

Liberia

3022

1578

Nigeria

20

8

Senegal

1

0

 

Dynamiq: Specific Recommendations for Companies Operating In or Near Ebola Affected Areas:

Dynamiq are working with a number of clients based in countries neighbouring Ebola affected regions, reviewing emergency management plans in the event of the virus becoming a threat to their operations and staff.

The following items listed are a list of key considerations for senior leadership, security, safety, HR and operations managers who are at risk of being affected by the Ebola virus:

1.     Ebola awareness and planning needs to take place as a pre-emptive action. If Ebola is not present in your country or community, but presents an immediate threat, do everything possible to educate your employees as soon as possible to remain in a situation of influence, before the message is lost in a myriad of messages from other sources such as local media and government, local traditional healers and elders, religious leaders, etc.  Education programs should include:

-          Your company’s Ebola plan
-          Simulations and exercises of the various levels of your plan
-          Reinforcement of company safety and hygiene practices at work for staff
-          Education on the company’s travel restrictions
-          Ebola awareness, common symptoms, prevention, decontamination and treatment in the event of infection
-          General Health and Hygiene information
-          Information on local Government response facilities

 

2.      In the event of the Ebola virus becoming present within country, companies may find it important to screen employees onsite for the virus at the beginning of each shift as part of their Ebola management plan. The setup of an onsite screening station should include appropriate PPE for medical personnel, isolation areas for suspected patients and contingency plans for transportation of suspected cases to treatment facilities. Other considerations for workplace screening facilities include:

-          Containment and safe disposal of infectious waste, and decontamination of  isolation units after use.
-          Welfare provision for personnel directed to isolation
-          Information provided to personnel instructed to enter isolation, including what plans are developed for their further screening, welfare, isolation, transport to Government testing facility and notification of their next of kin.
-          Broader understanding of further doctor screening steps that will be undertaken with persons directed to isolation containers
-          Consideration of others who may have been in contact with persons directed to isolation, including personnel who may have been in close contact.

 

3.      The fear of being associated with a site that has been exposed to Ebola is, understandably, very high among employees surveyed by Dynamiq. Employers need to consider the immediate and profound effect on the comfort level of staff when faced with visible Ebola screening stations, visible decontamination of transportation vehicles and other activities associated with suspect cases that may suggest Ebola is present on site.

4.      Operations are also at threat of employees refusing to enter a facility or transportation vehicle that may have been exposed to a suspected Ebola patient. Plans and contingencies need to be considered in the event of mass absences due to fear of contracting the virus whilst on the way to work or at work, and how to negate instances of this happening. 

5.      Planning around transportation of suspected Ebola patients to government testing and treatment facilities needs to be carefully planned for in advance. Considerations should include:

-          Contamination protection for the Transporter (drivers or pilots);

            -          Risks of wearing PPE / hazmat suits when operating a vehicle

            -          Consideration of separating the Transporter from the suspected patient with a physical barrier

            -          Decontamination of the vehicle

            -          Consideration of employee’s perceptions of vehicles used for transporting patients 
being decontaminated and put back in use for mass transportation of uninfected employees.

-          Types of transportation vehicles available within your business’s fleet

            -          The complexities of decontamination

            -          The amount of time your business will need do without the vehicles to allow for round trips to government treatment facilities. 

6.      Consideration needs to be given to the possibility that a screened employee presenting with Ebola symptoms may refuse to enter isolation for further screening. Site security must be ready with clearly planned instructions for the patient to ensure the safety of your staff (e.g. return home or attend a local Government established screening centre).

7.      Consider the need information and equipment packs for local staff to take home in the event of infection being discovered in local communities or at the worksite.  Items to consider supplying include PPE that may be required to attend to and care for family members who contract Ebola, disinfectant bleach, spray bottles and relevant safety instructions and information for decontamination within the home.  Helping local communities is vital to protecting the workforce and reducing the local impacts of Ebola, including operational impacts.  

Please contact Dynamiq’s Emergency Operations Centre on 02 9978 6661 if you require further advice or assistance.

 

- Daniel Pritchard, COO Dynamiq and Mark Loader, General Manager, Consulting, Dynamiq Strategy

- See more at: http://dynamiq.efront-dev.com.au/news-and-insights/protecting-your-business-operations-in-ebola-affected-areas#sthash.oMlVqdkw.dpuf

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