It’s been a busy news week around the world with the latest coronavirus, COVID-19, earning the declaration of a worldwide pandemic. In the wake of the announcement and with the continued spread of the virus, many industries have shuttered their doors to large gatherings of people.
This has set off an unprecedented wave of cancellations of schools, sporting events, concerts, and even entire seasons for some sports. As of the World Health Organization’s March 7 report, over 100,000 cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 have been recorded, and that number has surely grown exponentially in the days since then.
It’s truly enough to make anyone panic, but what does the COVID-19 pandemic mean for veterinarians and their clients? The American Veterinarian Medical Association issued an updated fact sheet for professionals to follow. Here’s a quick round-up of what you need to know.
Can animals contract coronavirus COVID-19?
As of now, there is no evidence that animals can get or become carriers of the coronavirus. Stringent hygiene is encouraged, which includes washing hands, but coming into contact with a dog, cat, or other domestic animal should not affect your chances of contracting the virus.
Should I tell my clients to stay home?
This is a discretionary call that should factor in things such as the current status of your city or town and any recent cases of the virus nearby. At this time, most states have taken steps to ban or discourage large gatherings of people (think 100-250 or more), and are also advising that people practice “social distancing” by not getting too close to others.
Of course, pets will still require care and medical attention during this time. Some vets may look into telehealth options, but since this is often not one that can be implemented quickly you may instead consider limiting hours or reducing the number of patients in the building at one time.
How can I protect my staff from the coronavirus?
Personal hygiene will continue to play a big role in helping stop the spread of the virus. Most recommendations include staying away from large gatherings and not going to work when ill. The latter is an important thing for practice owners to remember: it is never a good idea for a sick person to go to work.
Some healthy people may not feel they are a high risk for contracting the virus, which has routinely affected elderly and ill individuals on a more severe level. However, it’s important to remember that even if you do not show symptoms, you can still be a carrier of the virus. This means that anyone who is immunocompromised in any way is more susceptible to getting ill from contact with a carrier.
The COVID-19 incubation period is around 1-14 days, according to the World Health Organization. A longer incubation period means that carriers may not realize they do have the virus until it’s too late, and they’ve come into contact with others.
Take a moment to review your sick and/or catastrophe pay protocol. The reality is that many businesses are not set up for large amounts of sick days, and this can have a devastating effect on the lives of workers as well as the stability of the business itself. Ensure that your employees have the ability to take sick leave if they are ill — even if this is a bit complicated, it’s well worthwhile to not only protect the employee but also to prevent the spread of infection in the office.
For more of the latest news on the coronavirus and what’s being done to help stop the spread, visit this link.