Claudia Calder explains the 2-15-48 rule for identifying who someone has been in contact with so that you can ensure your workplace can isolate exposed staff and remain open.

As businesses start to open and staff return to work, what do you do if a member of your team develops COVID-19 symptoms?

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • High temperature – this means that you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • New, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

If you have one or more of these symptoms, you must self-isolate straight away for 7 days – or longer if you still have symptoms other than cough or loss of sense of smell/taste.

The Stages of Test and Trace

As we all know, COVID-19 is infectious and there may be a possibility that they could have infected other people in your business.

The first stage is to ask them to go home, and to self-isolate for 7 days.  And ask anyone else in the same household to self-isolate for 14 days from when the individual started having symptoms.

The second stage is to order a test immediately at or call 119.

If the test result is positive, then the individual must complete the remainder of the 7-day self-isolation and the other people in the household to complete their 14 days self-isolation from the first day the individual had symptoms.

The test result is negative, the individual and their household no longer need to self-isolate.

If the test is positive, the NHS test and trace service will send a text or email alert or call with instructions of how to share details of people with whom they have been in close and recent contact with and places that they have visited.  It is important that the individual responds as soon as it is possible so that the appropriate advice can been given to those who need it.

But what can you do, as a business, in the meantime to protect your workers?

See our full COVID-19 Health and Safety Advice and Guidance

What happens if somebody in your workplace shows symptoms of COVID-19?

If someone in your workforce develops symptoms of COVID-19 there is a method that can be implemented to identify who they have been in contact with, thereby allowing you to notify staff who may have been in contact with them to stay home.

Use the 2 – 15 – 48 Rule

The 2 – 15 – 48 rule is a simple method of finding out who the person has been in contact with.

  • 48 = 48 hours – who has the person been in contact with in the past 48 hours before showing symptoms of COVID-19?
  • 15 = 15 mins – in that 48-hour period, who has the person been in contact with for 15 mins (or more)?
  • 2 = 2m – during that 15 min (or more) period, who has the person been in close contact with, within a 2m distance?

Gathering this information will help you inform other people working in your environment that they maybe at risk of developing COVID-19 and they should self-isolate.

For more information and guidance regarding Covid-19 Health and Safety, visit our Covid-19 H&S Hub where you can also field your questions directly to our expert consultants. Or email [email protected] directly for support.

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