Coronavirus Pandemic

UAE firms go all out to protect employees from coronavirus

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on February 2, 2020 | Last updated on February 2, 2020 at 07.11 pm
uae firms, coronavirus, employees, protect, ncov, novel coronavirus, companies

(Reuters file)

Companies are conducting health checks for their workers.

Be it in retail, healthcare or the industrial sector, employers across the UAE are taking steps to ensure the safety of their employees from novel coronavirus (nCoV), which has been spreading fast globally. In the UAE, five patients have tested positive and are now being treated.

Apart from ensuring that employees are using sanitisers regularly and wearing masks when interacting with outsiders, companies are conducting health checks for their workers.

Employees who are returning from China are also asked not to report to work and, instead, go directly to medical centres for check-ups, even if they don't feel any symptoms.

In fact, some have even asked their staff members to work from home if they feel unwell.

"All employees returning to the UAE from China or from other countries where the 2019-nCov had been reported in the last 14 days and suffering with fever, cough and/or shortness of breath should report to the nearest hospital immediately," Emirates Global Aluminium, the largest aluminium producer in the region, said in a memo sent to its employees last week.

"Other employees returning to the UAE from abroad should report to Jebel Ali Medical Centre or Al Taweelah Medical Centre for medical assessment before resuming their duties," the advisory also said.

The memo was issued on January 28, a day before the UAE officially confirmed that a four-member Chinese family was the first nCoV-positive case in the country.

As of Sunday, more than 300 had died and 14,450 had been infected by coronavirus in China. Starting from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the virus has spread to more than two dozen countries across the globe. The first nCoV death outside China was reported in the Philippines on Sunday, as confirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Philippines.

At warehouses, supermarkets

Nikai Group in the UAE, as part of precautionary measures, has procured facemasks and handed them to all its employees. Hand hand sanitisers were also made available across its office, store and warehouse.

"Apart from providing the basic hygiene requirements, we have shared the WHO manual with every individual and we are encouraging everyone to follow the basics like covering their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze and disinfecting the objects and surfaces they touch," said Nadia Khan, head of human resources at Nikai Group.

Khan said they also have a work-from-home option for those who are sick.

Supermarket retail Al Adil Group has conducted health checks for its employees.

"We have also asked them to sanitise their hands regularly and wear masks," said Dr Dhananjay Datar, managing director of Al Adil Group of Super Market.

Taking similar steps, Kamal Vachani, group director of Al Maya Group, said that at the moment, his company has stopped sending employees to China for deals.

"We import a number of household items from China but, at present, we are not sending our representatives or buyers to virus-affected areas. We are taking all steps to safeguard our people from the virus," Vachani said.

Mock drills at clinics

Dr Malathi Arshanapalai, group chief quality officer and chief medical officer at Aster DM Healthcare, said the healthcare firm has initiated training and awareness well in advance.

"Awareness sessions have been conducted for all employees, including security, housekeeping, and valet parking staff. The clinical staff has been briefed on case identification and coordination for the required tests and reporting as per DHA guidelines," Dr Arshanapalai said.

She said a few mock drills have been conducted to ensure their preparedness.

Roadshow postponed

Alan James Gammon, general manager of Dubai-based Samana Group, on Saturday said the company has put off its China roadshow - which was supposed to take place at the end of this month - until the current crises has been brought under control.

"A number of delegations that were set to join us in Dubai post the Chinese New Year celebrations have been rescheduled for March, yet we will be monitoring the situation closely before decisions regarding travel is made," Gammon said.

Airlines equipped

Last week, Emirates airline and DP World sent advisories to their employees in China to take precaution against the virus.

"Our crew who serve passengers with any symptoms have been advised to wear masks on board. We are monitoring the situation closely and will follow the guidelines and directives from health authorities in China and the UAE, WHO and IATA," the airline's spokesperson said.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Aviation Group had said it stands ready to take more actions based on informed advice.

It said the safety of its passengers and employees is its highest priority, as it continues to collaborate with authorities and industry partners on the issue.

Conduct health checks for all employees

Staff members returning from China are told to undergo tests

Employees returning from abroad were asked to report to medical centres, too

Face masks provided

Hand sanitisers were made available across offices, stores and warehouses

Employees who are not feeling well are allowed to work from home

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