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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

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

  • Avoid contact with others who are ill with fever or cough.
  • Practice social distancing (maintaining at least 2 meters/6 feet distance between yourself and others) in any areas with COVID-19 community spread.
  • Avoid touching your face. The virus can spread by touching surfaces with your hands where respiratory droplets from infected people have landed and then touching your face with your unwashed hands.
  • 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 or eyes. If no soap is available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash your hands with soap.
  • Avoid crowded areas or large gatherings.

Certain individuals are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Based upon medical information available thus far, those at higher risk are older adults. The U.S. CDC has recently updated its guidance to state that risk increases with age, not listing a specific age threshold that puts one at higher risk. It is worth noting, however, that those who are 85 years and over are at greatest risk.

There are also certain medical conditions that increase the risk for severe illness, including the following:

  • 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;
  • Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher);
  • Type 2 diabetes;
  • ​Hemoglobin disorders such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia.

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

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

  • Strictly follow social distancing (also called "physical distancing") 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.
  • Avoid all non-essential outings outside your home. Do not travel.

The Use of Face Masks in the Community by Healthy Persons

There are three (3) different types of face coverings/masks to be used in diff​erent situations. Only the first two will be relevant to most staff. The WHO updated its guidance on June 5, 2020, stating that "to prevent COVID-19 transmission effectively in areas of community transmission, governments should encourage the general public to wear masks in specific situations and settings as part of a comprehensive approach to suppress SARS-CoV-2 transmission."

When using a face covering or mask of any kind, it is essential to also use other measures to prevent spread of disease: washing your hands often with soap and water, avoiding touching your face, and staying away from others when sick. Incorrect use of masks and cloth face coverings can increase the risk of infection. Please refer to the FAQs for more detailed information.

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What To Do If You Are Sick

For staff exhibiting COVID-19-like symptoms (Fever, Cough, Difficulty breathing, Fatigue, Chill, Repeated shaking with chills, Muscle pain, Headache, Sore throat, New loss of taste or smell):

  • Please 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 two posted FAQs:

  • I live in a country office and do not have a care provider, where can I get help if I suspect I may be sick with COVID-19? - [FAQ]
  • I live and work in the Washington, DC, area and don't have a healthcare provider. I have symptoms of COVID-19, where can I get help? - [FAQ​]

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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 (either test confirmed or clinically diagnosed by a doctor), or have been in contact with people who tested positive for or are probable cases of COVID-19 should stay home (except to seek medical care) and isolate themselves from others for a period of 14 days. Staff who have been out in congregate settings (areas where large groups of people are gathered) where they have not maintained social distancing and where community spread of COVID-19 is ongoing should also self-isolate for 14 days. They 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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