The outbreak of Covid-19 continues to evolve and practitioners may have questions regarding what they should do in their businesses plus also contact with participants. Below is some general information to assist practitioners.
This information is based on current understanding and will be updated should government and health advice change significantly. It should be noted this does not replace government advice; it is meant to supplement the official sources with the addition of some research considerations. Remember to continue to check the up-to-date guidance on the Australian Government website https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert.
What is Covid-19 and how to avoid it?
Covid-19 is caused by the coronavirus which affect lungs and airways. Signs of Covid-19 include experiencing a cough, fever or shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. The symptoms are similar to other illness such as cold and flu and includes:
- A cough
- A high temperature
- Shortness of breath
It is still not known exactly how the virus spreads from person to person. Although similar viruses are spread via cough droplets.
The best way to avoid the spread of Covid-19 is to take the following personal actions:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and hot water (best option) or use sanitiser gel (alternative).
- Ensure you have tissues readily available.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue (NOT your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
- Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards.
- Avoid close contact with people who display indications of being unwell. Ideally keep 1 metre (3 feet) away.
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes if your hands are not clean.
- Use bacterial wipes to clean your work surfaces including phones, keyboards, computer mouse, etc.
The Australian Government announced yesterday that individuals who have travelled overseas and arrive back into Australia from today must stay indoors (‘self-isolate’) and avoid contact with other people for 14 days.
Self-isolation: How to do it
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you must stay at home to prevent it spreading to other people.
You might also be asked to stay at home if you may have been exposed to the virus.
Staying at home means you:
- do not go to public places such as work, school, shopping centres, childcare or university
- ask someone to get food and other necessities for you and leave them at your front door
- do not let visitors in — only people who usually live with you should be in your home
You do not need to wear a mask in your home. If you need to go out to seek medical attention, wear a surgical mask (if you have one) to protect others.
You should stay in touch by phone and on-line with your family and friends.
To find out more, read our home isolation information sheet.
UNDERTAKING RESEARCH:Some Considerations for Members and Company/ Client Partners
AMSRS recommends the following steps are taken into consideration when undertaking research activities in Australia to minimise potential infection to staff, participants and contractors.
1. If research staff begin to feel unwell and/or have visited a high-risk country within the last 14 days or been in contact with anyone who has visited a high-risk area, ask them to self-isolate and to work from home (if the staff are fit to do so and they role enables home working). This includes all interviewers, contractors, freelancers, recruiters and temporary workers.
2. Provide guidance to staff on what they must do to self-isolate.
3. Provide guidance to staff on what actions will be undertaken should offices become infected.
4. Contact https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert to receive appropriate advice if you have evidence or concerns of any staff or participants being infected with Covid-19.
If approaching individuals face to face to participate in research interviewers/recruiters/researchers should:
- Avoid people who look visibly unwell
- Stand at least 1 metre (3 feet) away from the potential participant
- Carry tissues and bacterial wipes and throw away in a bin any which are used
- Avoid touching their nose, mouth or eyes
- Avoid any physical contact such as shaking an individual’s hand
When developing the screener questions (via online, telephone or face to face) to establish whether individuals qualify for a face to face project, researchers should add some additional questions to determine:
- Whether individuals have visited or been in close contact with any individuals who have visited, or travelled through (via transfers, etc) any of the high-risk areas
- Whether individuals are experiencing any flu-like symptoms
- Whether individuals have been in close contact with individuals experiencing flu-like symptoms
People who respond to the screener questions in a way which indicates they have a high risk of infection should not be recruited for face to face research. These people could be recruited for either online or telephone studies if obtaining such information is unlikely to expose the interviewer/recruiter/researcher to potential infection.
The Covid-19 screener questions, can only be collected with the informed consent of participants as they include the collection of sensitive information (about people’s health),- refer to rule 21 of the AMSRS Code of Professional Behaviour.
NOTE: When recording the responses to the screener questions no inferences should be made to the actual health of the participant. Researchers are not health professionals. The screener questions being recommended are to be used to reduce potential risk to others involved in research (interviewers, recruiters, researchers and other participants).
During Face to Face Research
Before face-to-face research commences the screener questions to establish Covid-19 risk should be repeated. Any individuals whose screener responses raises concerns should be asked to withdraw from the research.
If participants are screened out prior to the commencement of the research, they should be refunded for any costs (such as travel) they have incurred in order to participate in research.
When setting up venues and/or facilities being used for the face to face research undertake the following:
- Position participants and those involved in the research (e.g. researchers, moderators, recruiters, venue staff, hosts, interviewers) at least 1 metre apart from each other
- Provide hand sanitizer
- Provide adequate washroom facilities which have hot water and soap
- If providing refreshments, ensure that the servers are trained to handle refreshments in an appropriate manner
- If providing goods as incentives, ensure they are wrapped/sealed before handing to participants
Provide participants with a telephone number, website, and/or email address for your research organisation which participants should contact if they become infected with Covid-19 following a research project.
Contact https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert immediately upon receiving notification of any participants who have become infected with Covid-19.
Act swiftly on advice from the https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert in relation to your staff and participants following the reporting of a Covid-19 infection.
For further information download a full version of the COVID-19 PLAN at https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/australian-health-sector-emergency-response-plan-for-novel-coronavirus-covid-19
This table provides a summary of COVID-19 Plan and guidance in interpreting this for businesses.