National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal
NSET's Actions for Safeguarding Its Staff from COVID-19

Actions for Safeguarding

In the current context of COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Nepal has been carrying out commendable actions to prevent and respond to the risks, that includes formation of functional High-level Committee in the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister, Activation of Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC), establishment of Crises Management Cells, preventive measures by quarantine and isolation, establishment of screening and isolation centers and dedicated hospitals at federal & provincial level, controlling/restriction in public gathering and international and domestic movements and several other mandatory instructions to the concerned stakeholders and general public.

In this context, NSET has also taken timely actions for safeguarding its staff from COVID-19 while during the operations of organizationís businesses.

NSET's Actions taken during COVID-19 pandemic situation

As the Coronavirus infection was spreading in many parts of the world, NSET started taking account of the developments. In last week of January 2020, internal consultations among NSET divisions, programs and team leads; and also with NSET Emergency Response Team (ERT), Emergency Medical Response Team (EMRT) and Wellness Committee were conducted. NSET started serious considerations about this global outbreak and precautionary measures were immediately applied and advised for NSET staff.

On Jan 31, General Advisory on NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (2019-NCOV) were prepared both in Nepali and English, and circulated among NSET Staff. That information is based on WHO and CDC advisories. Awareness materials also pasted in cafeteria, reception area and near at the entrance. Each staff made aware of prevention and control of COVID-19.

NSET then started managing for precautionary provisions at NSET Office. Hand sanitizer was placed in the reception. Mask bought in adequate amount. Staff and the visitors entering NSET premises were advised to wash their hands with sanitizer.

Hand Wash

Based on the Governmentís Travel Advisory on March 2, 2020, NSET decided to restrict non-essential official international and domestic travels immediately, minimize or avoid meetings, workshops and mass-gatherings, complete planned activities with highest precautionary measures, and advised to take sick leave and stay on self-quarantine for staff exhibiting flu-like symptoms and to seek medical advice. The staff on self-quarantine were suggested to work from home. NSET adapted and prepared awareness materials on COVID-19 and displayed in visible places of NSETís offices. NSETís Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response (DPER) Division and the Emergency Medical Response Team (EMRT) were asked to regularly monitor and share updates on global and Nepalís COVID-19 situations.

NSET Emergency Medical Response Team (EMRT) was activated on March 5. EMRT conducted Orientation on COVID-19 to all key professionals and support staff. All who use public transport were advised to take special precautions. Similarly, reminder for washing hand was posted in all washrooms. EMRT developed information materials for self-quarantine and household in both English and Nepali for field staff.

On March 18, following WHOís declaration of COVID-19 as Pandemic and Nepal as a vulnerable to COVID-19 and released updated travel advisory, NSET made further precautionary decision/activities for program events, surveillance and observance of precautions at office premises, travels, international staffs and others. NSET started temperature screening of the staff and visitors at entrance and started maintaining distances in meetings also. A technical advisory group was formed consisting of relevant medical doctors and representative of nearest hospital. A self-assessment tool based on the algorithm published by EDCD was developed.

Health Check

NSET on March 20 provided Health and Hygiene kit to all NSET staff with essential medicines, mask, disinfection liquid, gloves etc. The kit contained 1 alcohol-based hand rub/hand sanitizer (with at least 70% isopropyl alcohol), 5 disposable masks, 2 pairs of Latex gloves, 1 Ziploc bags (for kit distribution, drugs like Paracetamol- 1 Strip, Sinex -1 Strip, 3 ORS (Jeevanjal) and 1 Mercury thermometer.

Health Check

NSET prepared Guidelines for Work from Home (WFH) with the view to guide and manage NSET operations in case NSET staff are to work from home. On March 21, NSET Executive Director declared of Work from Home (WFH) for all NSET staff from March 23 to April 3, 2020. March 23, 2020 was the first day for NSET staff to Work from Home. General Staff Meeting held online where almost 80% staff participated. NSET Executive Director briefed about the situation and gave instructions to team leads and all staff to Work from Home. Since then, NSET has been operating office businesses from distance by its staff working from home.

Online Meeting through Microsoft Teams

USAID/OFDAís Program for Enhancement of Emergency Response (PEER) under NSET appealed a call for the PEER trained responders to assist during the COVID-19 situation from their level. This was done in a "PEER Community", an active group in Facebook.

NSET has also consulted medical professionals to have their guidance to cope with the threat. An online Orientation on COVID-19 was conducted by Senior Surgeon and Expert on Hospital Preparedness for Emergency Prof. Dr. Pradeep Vaidya. All NSET executives, directors, managers, and relevant staff attended the orientation session. Dr. Vaidya shared information on COVID-19, its prevention measures, facts, misinformation, way forward and possibility of NSET's involvement in COVID-19 situation.

Online Meeting through GoTOMeeting

All these decisions and actions of NSET helped to build confidence of all staff and families to become safe from COVID-19. NSET intends to continue such actions, and help propagate accurate information and knowledge to the communities.

Copyright 2020 National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal