Skip to Main Navigation

Health and Safety Directorate

COVID-19: Advice for Staff Spouses/Domestic Partners, Dependents & Retirees

General Preventive Measures | Fack MasksWhat To Do If You Are Sick | When to Stay at Home | COVID Care Kits

HSD Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Note: World Bank Group staff are encouraged to review internal resources for additional information specific to Bank staff:

IMF staff are encouraged to review internal resources for additional information specific to IMF staff:

General Preventive Measures

It is important to take a layered approach to prevention. COVID-19 can be spread by people that have no symptoms, and newer variants spread more easily than the original SARS CoV-2 strain. All these measures should be used together to protect yourself and your family, and to limit the spread of COVID-19 within your community.

  • Get vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • In areas with high community spread, wear a mask in indoor settings when away from home and avoid crowded areas, close contact settings, and confined or enclosed spaces with poor air circulation. Stay physically distanced from others who are not part of your household, particularly if you do not know their vaccination status. Do not host or participate in any large gatherings.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially when returning from any public setting, before eating, and before touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. If no soap is available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • When coughing and sneezing, do NOT remove your mask (if you are outside of your home).
  • If you are exposed to someone known or suspected to have COVID-19, wear a high-quality mask around others for at least 10 days and get tested on day 6 after exposure. If you test negative, continue to wear a mask for the full 10 days. If you test positive, follow isolation guidelines.

Certain individuals are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Those who are at higher risk should get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 as soon as they are able. That includes older adults (risk increases with age) and those with certain medical conditions:

  • Cancer;
  • Cerebrovascular disease;
  • Chronic kidney disease;
  • Chronic liver disease (cirrhosis, non-alcoholic or alcoholic fatty liver disease; autoimmune hepatitis);
  • Chronic lung diseases (including moderate to severe asthma and COPD, see the full list here);
  • Cystic fibrosis;
  • Dementia or other neurological conditions;
  • Diabetes (type 1 or 2);
  • Disabilities (including people with any type of disability that makes it more difficult to do certain activities or interact with the work around them; people with ADHD, cerebral palsy, birth defects, intellectual or developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, spinal cord injuries, or Down syndrome);
  • Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or possibly high blood pressure);
  • HIV infection;
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system, including primary immunodeficiency);
  • Mental health conditions (mood disorders, including depression and schizophrenia spectrum disorders);
  • Overweight (defined as a body mass index (BMI) of > 25kg/m2 but < 30kg/m2), obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m2 but < 40 kg/m2), or severe obesity (BMI of ≥40kg/m2), with the risk of severe COVID-19 illness increasing sharply with elevated BMI;
  • Physical inactivity (people who do little to no physical activity or exercise);
  • Pregnancy;
  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia;
  • Smoking, current or former;
  • Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant;
  • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain;
  • Substance use disorders;
  • Tuberculosis.

See the CDC's detailed list here.

​For those who are at higher risk, take the following additional actions:

  • Wear a mask in high-risk situations, avoid crowds, and strictly follow other public health guidelines.
  • Ensure you have enough prescription and over-the-counter medications that you regularly need.
  • Stay in touch with your doctor to ensure your underlying medical condition is closely monitored.
  • If you get sick, do not delay seeking medical care.

Top of Page

Face Masks

Masks are a key tool to prevent the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. They should be worn in situations where there may be high risk of viral transmission, where recommended or required by local or national health authorities, or to protect oneself and one’s family members who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness. In areas of high community spread, masks are an important tool in situations of close contact, closed spaces, and/or crowded places. They are also important in preventing transmission from people who are infected with COVID-19 but have no symptoms of illness.

Protection provided by a mask depends on both filtration and fit. If you are required/choose to wear a mask, wear the highest quality mask available to you and make sure it fits well around your face without any gaps. The best choice is an N95, KN95, or KF94 respirator mask (which has high filtration) that fits tightly around the mouth and nose. Surgical type masks provide better filtration than a cloth mask but may not provide a close fit. If possible, a cloth mask can be work over a surgical type mask to improve the fit around the face.

Top of Page

What To Do If You Are Sick

For staff exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea):

  • Contact your primary care physician to get guidance on what to do and follow local public health authority guidance.
  • If you need to go out in public (e.g., to a medical appointment) wear a high-quality respirator ​mask (such as an N95 or KN95) to prevent infection of others.

If you do not have a primary care physician – refer to the FAQs

Top of Page

When to Stay at Home & Avoid Contact with Others

All staff who are sick with symptoms of COVID-19 or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 should stay home (except to seek medical care) and isolate themselves from others.

HQ-based staff who have been ill with COVID-19 should not return to the workplace for a minimum of 5 days after their symptoms began or after a positive test (if asymptomatic) - the day of first symptom or positive test is counted as Day 0. Staff may only return AFTER 5 days if they are fever free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medicine) and other symptoms are improving. Staff MUST wear a mask at all times in the office for a full 10 days from the start of their illness.

Best practice is to remain out of the office for 10 days. If you wish to come back between day 6 and day 10, you are recommended to take a rapid antigen test after day 5 if you are fever free for 24 hours (without the use of fever reducing medications) and your other symptoms have improved. If your results are positive, then continue to isolate for the remainder of the 10 full days since your first positive test (you do not need to enter this second positive test result into WBGVax). If your results are negative, enter the result into WBGVax and you may return to the office.

If you return to WBG premises on day 6, you are required to wear a high quality mask at all times (indoors and outdoors) until day 10 following your first positive test, according to U.S. CDC guidance. You should not remove your mask at any time, including in meetings, and should not eat or drink around others while inside the office (this includes staff sitting at open workstations). If you are unable to comply with this, continue to work from home. Managers should provide flexibility to allow continued work from home to accommodate infection control best practices.

Country Office-based staff should follow their doctor’s guidance for ending isolation after COVID-19 illness, in line with their national recommendations. In the absence of national guidelines, the WHO recommends that those with symptoms stay isolated for a minimum of 10 days after the first day they developed symptoms, plus another 3 days after the end of symptoms (no fever and no respiratory symptoms). For those without symptoms, they should stay isolated for 10 days after testing positive.

Those who have been in contact with someone that has COVID-19 should wear a high-quality mask around others as soon as they find out they were exposed, and continue to wear a mask for 10 full daysaccording to the U.S. CDC. They should get tested for COVID-19 on day 6 post exposure, even if they do not develop symptoms. If testing negative, they should continue to follow precautions (including wearing a mask) for 10 full days. If testing positive, then they should follow isolation precautions.

Top of Page