Guidance for health workers

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak: rights,roles and responsibilities of health workers, including key considerations for occupational safety and health

Health workers are at the front line of the COVID-19 outbreak response and as such are exposed to hazards that put them at risk of infection. Hazards include pathogen exposure, long working hours, psychological distress, fatigue, occupational burnout, stigma, and physical and psychological violence. This document highlights the rights and responsibilities of health workers, including the specific measures needed to protect occupational safety and health.

– Access the publication (18 March 2020)

Infection prevention and control during health care when novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection is suspected

This is the first edition of guidance on infection prevention and control (IPC) strategies for use when infection with a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is suspected. It has been adapted from WHO’s Infection prevention and control during health care for probable or confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, based on current knowledge of the situation in China and other countries where cases were identified and experiences with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV and MERS-CoV.

– Access the publication (19 March 2020)

Health workers exposure risk assessment and management in the context of COVID-19 virus

This tool is to be used by health care facilities that have either cared for or admitted COVID-19 patients; it is to be completed for all health workers who have been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 patient in a health care facility. It will help determine the risk of COVID-19 virus infection of all HCWs who have been exposed to a COVID-19 patient and then provides recommendations for appropriate management of these HCWs, according to their infection risk.

Find below the links to the template for collecting the data contained within the tool and a corresponding data dictionary to facilitate the collection of this data.

– Access the tool (19 March 2020)

– Access to the data template

– Access to the data dictionary

Rational use of personal protective equipment for coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

This document summarizes WHO recommendations for the rational use of personal protective equipment (PPE), in health care and community settings, including the handling of cargo. This document is intended for those involved in the distribution and management of PPE, as well as public health authorities and individuals in health care and community settings to understand when PPE use is most appropriate.

–  Access the publication (19 March 2020)

Advice on the Use of Masks

This document provides rapid advice on the use of medical masks in communities, at home and at health care facilities in areas that have reported outbreaks caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV). It is intended for public health and infection prevention and control (IPC) professionals, health care managers, health care workers and community health workers.

– Access the publication (6 April 2020)

Home care for patients with suspected novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection presenting with mild symptoms and management of contacts

WHO has developed this rapid advice note to meet the need for recommendations on the safe home care for patients with suspected novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection presenting with mild symptoms and public health measures related to management of asymptomatic contacts.

– Access the publication (17 March 2020)

Q&A on infection prevention and control for health care workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed 2019-nCoV

Are boots, impermeable aprons, or coverall suits required as routine person protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers (HCW) caring for patients with suspected or confirmed 2019-nCoV infection? Can disposable medical face masks be sterilized and reused? Do patients with suspected or confirmed 2019-nCoV need to be hospitalized if they have mild illness? Here you will find answers to these and other questions related to infection prevention and control for health care workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed 2019-nCoV.

– Read the Q&A

Water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for COVID-19

This Technical Brief supplements existing IPC documents by referring to and summarizing WHO guidance on water, sanitation and health care waste which is relevant for viruses (including coronaviruses). This Technical Brief is written in particular for water and sanitation practitioners and providers.

– Access the publication (19 March 2020)

Guide to local production of WHO-recommended Handrub Formulations

Part A is intended to guide a local producer in the actual preparation of the formulation.

Part B contains important safety and cost information and incorporates information from the WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care (2009).

– Access the publication (April 2010)

IPC guidance for long-term care facilities in the context of COVID-19

The objective of this interim guidance is to provide guidance on Infection Prevention and Control in Long-Term Care Facilities (LTCF) in the context of COVID-19 to prevent COVID-19-virus from entering the facility, spreading within the facility, and spreading to outside the facility. This guidance is for LTCF managers and corresponding IPC focal persons in LTCF.

– Access the publication (21 March 2020)

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) technical guidance: Surveillance and case definitions

Considerations in the investigation of cases and clusters of COVID-19

This document offers operational guidance to Member States for the rapid investigation of suspected COVID-19 cases after an alert or signal. It is a tool to be used by local, regional, or national health authorities that addresses considerations in investigating cases of COVID-19. 

– Access the publication (2 April 2020)

Global Surveillance for human infection with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) 

This document provides guidance to Member States on implementation of global surveillance of COVID-19. The objectives of this global surveillance are:

  1. to monitor trends of the disease where human to human transmission occurs;
  2. rapidly detect new cases in countries where the virus is not circulating;
  3. provide epidemiological information to conduct risk assessments at the national, regional and global level; and
  4. provide epidemiological information to guide preparedness and response measures.

– Access the publication : “Global surveillance for COVID-19 caused by human infection with COVID-19 virus Interim guidance 20 March 2020” (20 March 2020)

Case-based reporting : reporting every case of COVID19

  1. Case-based reporting form
  2. Data dictionary for case-based reporting form

Aggregated reporting: reporting global cases count of COVID19

  1. Aggregated weekly reporting form

Considerations for quarantine of individuals in the context of containment for coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

The purpose of this document is to offer guidance to Member States on quarantine measures for individuals in the context of COVID-19. It is intended for those responsible for establishing local or national policy for quarantine of individuals, and adherence to infection prevention and control measures. 

– Access the publication (19 March 2020)

Operational considerations for COVID-19 surveillance using GISRS

This document is intended for Ministry of Health and other government officials responsible for COVID-19 and influenza surveillance and summarizes the operational considerations for leveraging influenza surveillance systems to incorporate COVID‑19 testing. 

– Access publication (26 March 2020)

Advice on the safe use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers

To protect yourself and others against COVID-19, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap and water. If you use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, make sure you use and store it carefully.

  • Keep alcohol-based hand sanitizers out of children’s reach. Teach them how to apply the sanitizer and monitor its use.
  • Apply a coin-sized amount on your hands. There is no need to use a large amount of the product.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose immediately after using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, as it can cause irritation.
  • Hand sanitizers recommended to protect against COVID-19 are alcohol-based and therefore can be flammable. Do not use before handling fire or cooking.
  • Under no circumstance, drink or let children swallow an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It can be poisonous. 
  • Remember that washing your hands with soap and water is also effective against COVID-19.