Covid-19 and Lifting of containment measures FAQ
Law of July 17, 2020 on measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Updated on September 24, 2020
How long is the mandatory quarantine period in the event of a Covid-19 infection?
Following a contact: seven days, on condition of submitting to a test from the sixth day onwards. In case of refusal to submit to a test, the quarantine is extended for a maximum of seven days, or 14 days in total.
In the event of infection: isolation with a prohibition on leaving the premises for a period of ten days.
What is the recommended timeframe to perform a PCR test?
It is now recommended to perform a PCR test on the 6th day instead of the 5th day, in case of suspicion of contamination or symptoms.
Is it possible to use a protective face shield as an alternative to wearing a mask?
No, a face shield cannot be used as a substitute for wearing a mask.
In working areas (offices, reception, circulation areas, etc.), is it possible to use a transparent Plexiglas screen as an alternative to wearing a mask?
No, even though it is not mentioned in the law, the occupational health division considers that plexiglass screens cannot supersede the wearing a mask if a distance of 2 metres cannot be kept during a contact of more than 15 minutes.
Updated on July 16, 2020
What are the sources of Covid-19’s contagion?
The main source of contagion is saliva droplet (>5microns) or aerosol (<5microns) transmission. We emit droplets by talking, coughing and sneezing. Aerosols are rather emitted by singing, shouting or breathing deeply as during physical exercise. If the droplets fall quickly to the ground, the aerosols remain suspended in the air for up to three hours and can be inhaled by another person. It is therefore essential to protect oneself:
Unless everyone wears a mask!
Contamination in the open air is unlikely due to the dispersion of aerosols by the circulating air. In restaurants, therefore, give preference to terraces.
Transmission through contaminated surfaces is much less likely and can be effectively prevented by frequent hand washing/disinfection and by avoiding touching their face.
What is Covid-19’s incubation period?
The incubation period is the time that elapses between contact with the sick person (contagion) and the development of symptoms. In most cases this period lasts 5-7 days, sometimes up to 14 days. The person becomes infectious 1-2 days before the onset of symptoms, i.e. between the 3rd and 7th day of the contagion.
What are Covid-19’s symptoms?
Covid-19 is a very non-specific disease and may present with a variety of clinical patterns ranging from a completely asymptomatic form to severe life-threatening pneumonia, passing through coughs and colds with or without fever. The most common symptoms are a dry cough, fever, cold and/or loss of taste or smell.
Other less common symptoms are sore throat, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, rash.
Who are the Vulnerable persons?
It is essential to make personal assessment of complications risk because there are too many factors involved and there is no way to generalize.
What is the procedure for vulnerable persons?
Vulnerable persons may work in companies on condition that the employer has provided them with protection measures appropriate to their vulnerability.
For government recommendations please refer to the attached PDF brochure.
What are the manifestations, complications and after-effects of a covid-19 infection?
Approximately 81% of infected people will have mild symptoms, 14% will have severe symptoms and 5% will have critical, life-threatening symptoms. As there is still insufficient evidence, there is no possible conclusion regarding the long-term after-effects of Covid-19.
How does immunity to covid-19 develop?
Antibodies appear in the second week of symptoms. At the present time we do not yet know how effective these antibodies are or how long they persist in our circulation. We also do not know what role cellular immunity plays in the development of the immunity.
What is the infectivity of coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) leading to Covid-19?
Generally, infectivity begins 2 days before the onset of symptoms and is maximal 1 day before the onset of symptoms, then gradually decreases and disappears 8-9 days after the onset of symptoms. By convention it is assumed that the person is no longer infectious two days after the symptoms have disappeared.
How tenacious is the coronavirus (SARS-CoV2)?
In one study, the presence of the virus in aerosols was demonstrated 3 hours after their emission. This highlights the importance of wearing a mask as soon as you leave your workstation and the importance of adequate ventilation to dilute the aerosol clouds. On surfaces the virus can survive between 4 and 48 hours. This underlines the importance of hands hygiene, exclusivity of the workplace and cleaning with a virucidal detergent.
What about research and vaccine development?
Currently there are more than 160 different vaccines in development. 21 of these vaccines are already in human clinical trials. Now we will have to be patient in order to test their medium and long-term effectiveness.
Sources: RKI, OMS
Answers to questions about lifting of containment measures.
|Dr Patrizia Thiry-Curzietti, General Director of the ASTF, answers about the virus transmission, types of masks and the different covid-19 tests.|
Can the ASTF carry out an audit on the measures put in place?
Yes, the ASTF is the health and safety advisor for both the employer and the employee and can perform on site audits to assess the measures undertaken by the company.
Is it necessary to consider having employees tested before they on-site?
Testing with PCR tests only gives a snapshot of the health status of employees at a given time. A person can very well be tested negative today and start spreading the virus tomorrow. This would give a false impression of security and lead to neglection of barrier gestures.
Serological testing will not be very productive either since only 2% of the population currently have antibodies. It would hence consist on a lot of work for little results.
My professional activity does not allow the recommended distance to be respected. What type of mask should I wear?
A surgical mask or a fabric mask worn by all concerned parties is sufficient if you do not work in an infectious hospital environment.
A face shield cannot be used as an alternative to a mask.
If I wear alternative masks, how long does it take to change them?
You should wear it for a maximum of 4 hours and change it as soon as it gets wet.
Can the employer impose temperature control at the entrance of the company building?
No, this is an invasion to privacy and can only be done on a voluntary basis.
Furthermore, it is not recommended since:
- affected people would have already been infectious two days before the onset of symptoms;
- there are virus carriers with no symptoms;
- only 41% of Covid-19s develop fever;
- you’re going to create line-ups at the entrance, ideal place for dissemination!
Should the company confine again / close if there have been new confirmed contaminated cases?
No. The health inspectorate will only quarantine people who have been in close contact with the patient over the 48 hours preceding the reporting.
Can the occupational physician be used to obtain prescriptions to have employees tested?
No, only the attending physician or the government can initiate testing.
Should occupational medicine be informed if the sanitary conditions are not adequate? Who else if not?
It is recommended to inform in the following order:
- the designated worker or the Covid-19 manager if there is one;
- the occupational physician;
- Health Inspection;
- The ITM
How to sterilize reusable masks?
Paper masks can be sterilized in the oven at 80°C for 30 minutes. Stay around!
Cloth masks should be washed with soap and water at 60°C minimum.
I had cancer and I’m off my meds. Am I a person at risk?
No, a cancer patient in remission who is no longer taking immunosuppressive drugs and is no longer undergoing radiation therapy is not considered to be at risk.
Can I ask my employer to provide me with personal protective equipment free of charge?
Yes, the employer is required by law to provide personal protective equipment (PPE).
Am I obliged to return to work on site at the request of my employer, even if I can work remotely?
Yes, the employer decides on the workplace but must provide the employee with all the necessary equipment to guaranty his health and safety.
Knowing that the virus is spread through the air, am I allowed to request the obstruction of ventilation grilles in my immediate work environment?
No, the opposite is recommended! The more air circulates, the faster the droplets will be eliminated.
If, for professional reasons, I have to move around the company premises, am I obliged to wear the mask?
Yes, it is recommended to wear a mask in places where the distance of 2 meters cannot be respected such as corridors, lifts, stairwells, etc.
The first time I come to the office, what do I have to pay attention to?
Apply barrier gestures and do not come to work if you have symptoms or if a member of your close circle is ill.
If I find out that the mandatory 2 meters distance between workstations is not ensured, am I obliged to stay at the office??
Yes and you are obliged to wear a mask.
Can the workstations in the open-space next to the corridors be occupied?
Yes, as long as wearing a mask is mandatory for all movements within the company. A person passing in the corridor will be a contact at less than 2 meters but with a mask and for less than 15 minutes.
When organizing the workspaces, our managers have opted for "nomadic work", so I no longer have an assigned workstation. When I return after the confinement period, can I ask my employer for permission to continue working at the same desk?
It is recommended to have one permanent place per employee. In the case of desk sharing, it will be necessary to clean and desinfect the workstation after each use.