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Health and Safety Directorate

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

General Preventive Measures | What 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

As more becomes known about how COVID-19 spreads from person to person, including a high percentage of asymptomatic spread and situations that may enhance airborne spread, it is important to take a layered approach to prevention. All of 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 when you have the opportunity.
  • Maintain physical distance of at least 2 meters/6 feet from all individuals who are not part of your household.
  • Wear a mask or face covering outside of your home when you may encounter other non-household members (outdoors and indoors). A mask should be worn in any indoor setting where there are others around, EVEN IF maintaining a 2 meter/6-foot distance.
  • Avoid crowded areas, close contact settings, and confined or enclosed spaces with poor air circulation. 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, and are not fully vaccinated, you should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last known contact and monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19. This self-quarantine period should include limiting contact with other household members (sleeping in a separate bedroom, if possible, and wearing a mask around others in your household). According to the U.S. CDC, If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine unless you have symptoms.
  • If you were in a situation with high risk of COVID-19 transmission (such as a large gathering), monitor yourself for 14 days to see if you develop symptoms and follow distancing and masking precautions. If the gathering you attended has confirmed COVID-19 cases, discuss with your doctor whether you were exposed and whether you need to quarantine for 14 days and be tested.

Practice prudent social distancing measures:

  • Avoid visiting elderly or vulnerable people if you and they are not vaccinated.
  • Have your children practice social distancing if they are too young to be vaccinated or if they are not vaccinated. They should maintain at least 2 meters/6 feet from other unvaccinated children, especially in indoor settings, and wear a mask if indoors or in outdoor areas where they cannot maintain a distance from others. Cases in children can be asymptomatic, and you may not know if your child or someone else's child has COVID-19.
  • If restaurants are open, do not dine indoors if you are not vaccinated.
  • Do not attend or host gatherings among unvaccinated individuals.
  • Go shopping only for essential items. Visit the grocery store at off-peak periods or when it is quieter.
  • Minimize use of public transportation if you can for those who are unvaccinated and where crowding is present. If you need to use public transportation, use during off-peak times. Avoid being in cars/buses with lots of people. If you are able, use a private car.

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

  • Cancer;
  • Chronic kidney disease;
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
  • Serious heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies);
  • People who are immunocompromised from blood, bone marrow or solid organ transplants; immunodeficiencies; HIV with a low CD4 count (an indicator of immune function in patients living with HIV) or not on HIV treatment; prolonged use of corticosteroids; or use of other immune weakening medicines;
  • 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;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Sickle cell disease;
  • Smoking;
  • Type 2 diabetes.

There are certain other medical conditions that may increase the risk of severe illness, but data are still limited. These conditions include asthma, high blood pressure, chronic liver disease, type 1 diabetes, and other conditions. See the full list here.

For those who are at higher risk, ensure that you have enough of any prescription medications you take, and strictly follow social distancing and masking guidelines. Stay in touch with your doctor to ensure that your underlying medical condition is closely monitored. If you get sick, do not delay in seeking medical care.

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Masks & Cloth Face Coverings

The WHO, U.S. CDC, and other national health authorities recommend wearing masks to prevent transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. This applies to both unvaccinated AND vaccinated individuals in areas with substantial or high transmission. Proper use of facemasks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. A significant amount of COVID-19 transmission occurs when people have no symptoms. Facemasks limit the droplets and aerosol particles being exhaled into the environment from someone potentially infected. When properly worn, a mask also protects the person wearing it from others' respiratory droplets and aerosols.

NOTE: Health authorities in some countries have either required or recommended medical grade masks for better filtration. Where recommended or required by local authorities, staff should follow those guidelines.

HSD reminds staff that protection provided by a mask depends on both filtration and fit. While medical grade N95 masks may provide a higher filtration, they will not provide improved protection if they do not fit well.

Tips on Fit:

To be effective, a mask must be worn over the mouth and nose.

If you have a mask with a nose wire, mold the wire to your nose bridge to close gaps.

Improve the fit of a disposable mask and eliminate the side gap by knotting the ear loops near the mask and tucking in the side of the mask for a close fit.

Two ways to check for fit: 

  • Exhale while feeling for airflow out the sides, top, & bottom of the mask with your hands. 
  • When you inhale, the mask should collapse toward your face, indicating no air being pulled in through the edges of the mask.

Tips on Filtration:

A mask should be at least 2 layers thick:

  • Disposable masks are often made with 3-5 layers of fused material.
  • Cloth masks should be made with at least 2 layers of tightly woven breathable material. Check this by seeing if the fabric blocks light when held up to a bright light.

When using a face covering or mask of any kind, it is essential to also use other measures to prevent spread of disease, avoiding the “3 Cs”:

  • Close contact with others (stay at least 2 meters/6 feet away from others who are not in your household),
  • Crowded places, and
  • Closed spaces with poor ventilation.

Also remember to avoid touching your face and wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

Cloth and disposable masks

Use: For the general public when outside the home, especially when undertaking activities where a distance of 2 meters/6 feet or more from others cannot always be maintained, such as when using public transport, in shops, or in other confined or crowded environments. They should also be used when caring for someone sick with COVID-19 in your home, or by someone who is sick with COVID-19 and is being cared for by family or household members.

Purpose: To help prevent spread of infection from you to others, and from others to you. Because a significant amount of transmission occurs when people do not (yet) have symptoms, it is important to wear a mask anytime outside your household..

Specifications: There are many different varieties of cloth and disposable masks. They should cover the nose and mouth and fit well without gaps. You should feel no air flow through or out the sides, top, or bottom of the mask. Cloth masks should be at least 2 layers to be effective, should not be "see through," and should have ear straps or head straps / ties in order to ensure a good fit.

​Medical masks / N95 respirators

Use: For healthcare workers caring for patients ill with COVID-19.

Purpose: To protect themselves from illness transmitted by sick patient. N95 masks require specific training and fit testing to be used effectively and should be reserved for healthcare workers.

Some national and local health authorities require people to wear masks in public places and may enforce this. You should follow local requirements in such locations.

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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 medical ​mask to prevent infection of others.

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

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When to Stay at Home & Avoid Contact with Others

All staff who are sick with symptoms of COVID-19, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or have been in contact with people who have COVID-19 should stay home (except to seek medical care) and isolate themselves from others. The period of isolation or quarantine is as follows:

Those who have COVID-19 should self-isolate as follows:

  • If they were ill with symptoms: A minimum of 10 days has passed since the first symptoms of illness, plus another 3 days after the end of respiratory symptoms and fever (other symptoms such as fatigue or lack of ability to smell may last longer and do not indicate infectiousness to others).
  • If they were asymptomatic: A minimum of 10 days after testing positive.

Those who have been ​in contact with someone that has COVID-19:

  • Self-quarantine for 14 days after the last known contact and monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19. This self-quarantine period should include limiting contact with other household members (sleeping in a separate bedroom, if possible, and wearing a mask around others in your household).
  • In the case of family/household contacts of ill individuals, those non-ill individuals should quarantine for 14 days after their household contact is no longer infectious per the above parameters.
  • If you were in a situation with high risk of COVID-19 transmission (such as a large gathering), monitor yourself for 14 days to see if you develop symptoms and follow distancing and masking precautions. If the gathering you attended has confirmed COVID-19 cases, discuss with your doctor whether you were exposed and whether you need to quarantine for 14 days and be tested. You should not go to the office.

Monitoring of health should include a daily temperature check for fever (defined as 38.0 C / 100.4 F) and monitoring for symptoms including cough, difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell or fatigue.

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Additional Information:

 

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