Skip to Main Navigation

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

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 and are not fully vaccinated (and boosted, if eligible), you should quarantine for at least 5 days (according to your national health authority guidance) after the last known contact, wear a mask around others for at least 10 days, and monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19. This quarantine period should include limiting contact with other household members if possible. According to the U.S. CDC, if you are fully vaccinated (and boosted, if eligible), you do not need to quarantine unless you have symptoms, but should wear a mask around others for 10 days and get tested 5 days after last exposure.
  • If you were in a situation with high risk of COVID-19 transmission (such as large gatherings), monitor yourself for 10-14 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 at least 5 days and be tested.

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;
  • 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. Cloth masks alone should only be used if higher quality disposable masks/respirators such as KN95 or KF94 are not available, and can be worn over a disposable surgical type mask to improve the fit of the underlying mask.

For expanded information on Face Masks, please refer to our FAQ, "When should I use a face mask and which type?" 

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 medical ​mask 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, 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. Staff who have been ill with COVID-19 should not return to the workplace for a minimum of 10 days after their symptoms began or 10 days after their positive test (if asymptomatic).

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.

In the U.S., the CDC recently updated its guidance to shorten the isolation time for individuals infected with COVID-19 to 5 days for those who are asymptomatic or whose symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), followed by 5 days of wearing a mask around others (so wearing a mask for a total of 10 days after onset of illness or positive test). Those who have access to testing at the end the 5-day isolation period should use an antigen test and be fever free for 24 hours when testing. While staff may follow these guidelines in general regarding their isolation, for the workplace the 10-day exclusion remains in place. The reason for this is that studies indicate that 31% of infected individuals remain infectious 5 days after symptom onset or a positive test.

Those who have been in contact with someone that has COVID-19 should quarantine as follows: According to the U.S. CDC, any unvaccinated, not fully vaccinated, or vaccinated and eligible for a booster but not yet boosted (i.e., more than 2 months after a J&J vaccine or 5 months after an mRNA vaccine) individual who has been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 should quarantine for at least 5 days after the last contact with the infected individual and get tested at least 5 days after exposure. If testing negative, wear a high-quality mask in public for an additional 5 days. If testing positive, follow isolation guidelines. Fully vaccinated and boosted individuals do not need to quarantine if they have no symptoms, according to the U.S. CDC, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure and get tested at least 5 days after last exposure.

Top of Page

Additional Information:

Top of Page