Major COVID-19 outbreaks in several Australian states have been attributed to staff continuing to attend work despite being unwell. 49 people at a Melbourne meatworks initially tested positive to COVID-19 and 16 people died at a Sydney nursing home after infections were transmitted by employees working on-site.
According to an article in the Daily Mail (UK), Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases expert from the Australian National University, said that staff going to work while sick appeared to be a major factor in the corona-clusters centered around workplaces in NSW and VIC.
At the Newmarch nursing home, in Caddens, western Sydney, an outbreak occurred after a staff member with mild COVID-19 symptoms attended work for six days in a row – infecting 37 of 100 residents as well as 26 staff, resulting in 16 deaths among the center’s more vulnerable residents. The staff member, a nurse, reportedly noticed a ‘scratchy throat’ but had not considered that extremely mild symptoms could represent any threat to the health of co-workers or patients in their care.
Meanwhile, an outbreak at the Cedar Meats processing plant in Gippsland, west of Melbourne, was sparked by the on-site presence of an infected worker, according to health authorities in Victoria. By the time health officials realized the situation at Cedar Meats was out of control, several workers were unwell and 49 tested positive to COVID-19 after the virus gained a three-week head-start on infectious disease identification and containment. The number of people infected through connection to the meatworks site eventually totaled at least 91.
On 15 May 2020, it was reported by News.com.au that a nurse working in a Rockhampton aged care home had tested positive for coronavirus following a trip to Brisbane and allegedly continued working at the home for almost two weeks despite experiencing symptoms. The home was put into lockdown immediately while a rapid response team started testing residents and staff.
CoolGard for the frontline screening of employees
Some organizations have responded to the need for workforce virus-screening by using costly COVID-19 test kits or obtrusive hand-held infrared temperature guns. CoolGard reduces the cost and hassle of preliminary screening through unobtrusive automatic temperature-checking. Instant alerts and dashboard monitoring eliminate the potential for human lapses in frontline procedures and reporting.
With CoolGard, managers can be assured that all staff and subcontractors on any of their sites have been checked for basic symptoms of transmissible illness at the start of each shift, and as often as needed by organizational requirements. Once the low-cost, wall-mounted CoolGard units are installed, there are no further costs other than a small monthly subscription for access to the CoolGard platform which sends automatic alerts when needed and stores the organization’s user data with utmost security. The CoolGard monitoring dashboards can be accessed by authorized personnel from anywhere, at any time, on desktop or mobile devices.
CoolGard assurance for employees, visitors, customers
When an organization displays the CoolGard sign, everyone visiting the site – from employees and colleagues to customers and guests – can be assured of greater protection from exposure to virus infection than at any site where checks are non-automated and non-monitored.
“CoolGard can help members of the public return to restaurants, hairdressers, hotels, and retail outlets with greater confidence,” said Melanie Williamson, public communications manager for CoolGard. “It also supports people to work more confidently when they’re not so worried about co-workers being unaware of mild symptoms or failing to mention they’re unwell for whatever reason.”