Resetting Human Lives Outside Home: Institutional and Community Infection Control

Author: Nimish Shah, Managing Director (India), Toilet Board Coalition

COVID-19 appears unstoppable and has almost imposed a global lockdown. Yet there is faith that we will overcome this through our collective will, cooperation, intelligence and creativity. What about the post COVID-19 world?

The last time our lives outside home changed was after the global terror attacks. Security checks became more rigorous, entry into most buildings was through security layers and cameras started keeping watch on human movements. We accepted additional inconveniences for greater public good. COVID-19 is likely to usher in a new set of measures, guidance, frameworks and standards to safeguard us and to ensure that the world does not see another lockdown, the economic and social impacts of which are far reaching.

Very likely that institutional and community infection control will emerge as a big theme. There is an opportunity to draw lessons from healthcare sector and foods businesses where hygiene norms exist and develop guidance for various additional sectors and occupational situations. There is definitely an opportunity for big businesses to pioneer designing and implementing infection control norms across their business units, geographies, ecosystems and communities, to ensure business resilience and continuity, while ensuring health and wellbeing of its employees. Employee absenteeism used to be an employer’s dilemma and suddenly presentism (of sick employees) is an equal, if not a bigger challenge.

Non-intrusive and remote health monitoring will expand. Detectors at entrances may have additional sensors and diagnostics for infections. Hygiene stations will become far more commonplace and disinfection of built-up spaces, more frequent. Mildly infected yet fit to work individuals may work out of separate zones. Novel easy to use, cost-effective and environmentally friendly personal protective equipment will be developed. Daily, or for that matter, hourly communication on health and hygiene behaviour may become a norm. Creative social distancing tools and advanced virtual working and collaborating tools, with almost-there features, will be sought.

At this moment we are in the midst of a Massive Global Behaviour Change Program. Let’s not lose this momentum, convert these into opportunities and make the world a resilient place.

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