BlazeAid COVID-19 Best Practice Information
At a meeting of the Board of BlazeAid on 16 March, the BlazeAid Health Response Sub-Committee presented their “BlazeAid COVID-19 Best Practice” documents.
This set of documents – outlining a combination of mandatory and recommended practices to be undertaken by BlazeAid Base Camps from 17 March 2020 – was passed unanimously by the Board.
The documentation, which has been collated and sourced from published information from Federal and State Health Authorities covers additional requirements and measures for all camps and volunteers to minimise the risk of, exposure to and spread of, COVID-19 to our volunteers, farmers and local communities.
These detailed documents have been delivered to all Camp Co-ordinators for immediate action and form part of our extensive safety documentation. Each co-ordinator will be reinforcing the relevant requirements at every daily Morning Safety Muster. These documents are obviously subject to change, as the need and directives from relevant health authorities require.
Keep doors open wherever possible
Door handles are touched by many people and can therefore easily spread germs
- If you can’t keep a door open (e.g. toilet, showers) clean the handles multiple times a day with household cleaner
Signage throughout the camp
Hang up provided signs in all public areas throughout the camp
- Dining area
- In the trailers
- All other public areas
Provide enough soap, hand sanitizer and cleaning products
- Soap must be readily available wherever hands can be washed
- Place hand sanitizers in public areas
- Make sure that there are enough cleaning products available
Every trailer needs to be equipped with a bar of soap and water
Eat and meet outside
If you can, and the weather allows, set up things outside for
- morning muster
No communal pens
- Do not offer communal pens to fill in forms. Every volunteer should bring their own
Daily life at camp
For the virus to spread, extended close personal contact is most likely required. “Close personal contact is at least 15 minutes face-to-face or more than 2 hours in the same room. At the moment, government urges the public to be mindful and take steps to minimise the risk of COVID-19.
Extensive testing has shown that people who have passed through places where there was a confirmed case, known as casual contacts, have an extremely low risk of transmission
Remind your volunteers of the new practices repeatedly at morning muster and whenever necessary
- WASH YOUR HANDS FOR AT LEAST 30 SECONDS
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water including before and after eating and after going to the toilet. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer
- COUGH AND SNEEZE INTO A TISSUE OR THE CROOK OF YOUR ARM
If coughing or sneezing, use disposable tissues and discard immediately, followed by washing of hands. If no tissue is available, cough/sneeze into the crook of your arm
- AVOID LARGE GATHERINGS
Whenever possible, avoid large gatherings if they’re not essential. Keep a distance of 1.5 metres between you and other people whenever possible and minimising physical contact. Gather outdoors
- ISOLATE WHEN FEELING UNWELL
If unwell, isolate yourself at your caravan/tent and avoid contact with others
- AVOID TOUCHING DOOR HANDLES, LIGHT SWITCHES, ETC. WITH YOUR BARE HANDS
Use the back of your hand or your elbow
- CLEAN SURFACES FREQUENTLY
Clean and disinfect often touched surfaces with household cleaner
Why to wash your hands with soap and water
When washing your hands with soap and water, opposed to alcohol-based hand sanitizer, you cover and wash your entire hand easily, which is not guaranteed when using a gel, wipe or other.
Soap and water are the best but do please use alcohol-based sanitiser when soap is not handy or practical.
- Wash hands in prescribed manner, with soap and warm water for 30 seconds and dry with paper towel or hand dryer. (Posters to be supplied for visible reminders)
Minimise person to person direct contact
- Discourage high fives
- sharing of utensils or drink containers
- Whenever possible, avoid large gatherings if they’re not essential.
- Keep a distance of 1.5 metres between you and other people whenever possible and minimising physical contact
Minimise gatherings within enclosed spaces
- Minimise large gatherings within enclosed spaces
- Gather outdoors as much as possible
Question the farmer before driving out to the farm
- Does the farmer feel unwell?
- Has the farmer been in contact with other people feeling unwell?
- Has the farmer been in contact with people from overseas in the last 14 days?
- Has the farmer been in contact with a confirmed case of Corona Virus?
Car-pooling to farms
- Car-pooling to farms can continue
- If a volunteer feels unwell, he cannot be in the car with others. The volunteer must stay at the camp and self-isolate
Farmers nights should be continued, as if BlazeAid leaves it will be devastating and the last blow for many. Follow above guidelines during these events.
- Make it a BBQ outside whenever possible
Some coronaviruses can potentially survive in the gastrointestinal tract however, food-borne spread is unlikely when food is properly cooked and prepared. With good food preparation and good hand hygiene, it is highly unlikely that you will become infected with coronavirus through food.
If someone feels unwell, they need to stay away from the kitchen
- Use different chopping boards and knives for raw meat and cooked foods
- Wash your hands between handling raw and cooked food
- Assign someone or a small group of people to prepare the lunches for everyone, following the guidelines for the preparation of food
- Encourage volunteers to bring their own dishes
- Wrap cutlery in serviettes. Wash your hands with soap and water before doing this
- Set the tables with as much distance as possible between people
- If a volunteer feels unwell, please offer their meals at their own quarters
After the meals
- Wash all dishes in hot soapy water
- Air dry dishes
Pour clean hot water over the washed dishes to make them dry quickly. Wipe all surfaces with household cleaner
To minimise the spread of any germs you should regularly wash surfaces that are frequently touched, with household cleaner or disinfectant.
- Door handles
- Light switches
- Bathroom areas
When cleaning, volunteers should minimise the risk of being infected with any germs. They should wear gloves and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser before and after wearing gloves.
More, very good information about household cleaning can be found on the QLD Government website: https://www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19/industry/resources-and-fact-sheets-for-industry/routine-household-cleaning
- Go through questionnaire with all new volunteers before they arrive at your camp and decide there if you want to accept them or not. -> “BA-Volunteer Questionnaire”
- If volunteers have their own van for transport it is safer, rather than using public transport
- No shaking hands with new volunteers or other people
- Inform new volunteers about the procedures in place at your camp
No new volunteers over the age of 75
- New or returning volunteers who are 75 years or over cannot attend a BlazeAid camp
- Volunteers who are already at your camp can stay, but cannot come back once they have left
Travellers from overseas
- 14-day self-isolation, required by the Australian Government, for recently arrived travellers from overseas. -> See attached “coronavirus-covid-19-isolation-guidance_2”
- Ask to see the travellers visa for proof about when they have arrived in the country
School groups and other large groups
- Until further notice, end school visits to base camps immediately
- We recommend, to not accept larger groups at the current stage
If someone feels unwell
While coronavirus is of concern, it is important to remember that most people displaying symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or tiredness are likely suffering with a cold or other respiratory illness—not coronavirus.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other colds and flus and include:
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
If a volunteer feels unwell, ask them to stay at their caravan or tent
- They need to advise the coordinator to let them know that they are self-isolating
- They need to avoid contact with others
- Offer them their meals at their caravan or tent. Place it outside their door.
- When using the amenities, enough sanitizer or cleaning products should be available for them to clean door handles, taps, etc.
- Going outside is ok too, but contact with others and the use of common areas should be avoided
- The coordinator should keep a record of when and why the volunteer went into self-isolation.
- Keep in contact with the volunteer by phone or from the outside of their caravan/tent to see how they are going
You might catch novel coronavirus (COVID-19) if:
- someone with the virus sneezes or coughs onto you
- someone with the virus coughed or sneezed onto a surface (like a door handle) that you touch, and you get the infected droplets on your hands and then transfer them to your mouth, nose or eyes when you touch your face or eat.
Prevent the spread of Coronavirus or any other germs
Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and keeping your distance from others when you are sick is the best defence against most viruses.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet
- Cover your cough and sneeze
- dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser
- If unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people)
- Exercise personal responsibility for social distancing measures
When does someone need to be tested for COVID-19?
People should only be tested for COVID-19 if their doctor believes they meet specific criteria. This includes:
- They have returned from overseas in the 14 days before they feel unwell
- They have been a close or casual contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case in the 14 days before they feel unwell
- They have a fever OR acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat) with or without fever
- They have a severe community-acquired pneumonia and no other cause of it is clear to your doctor, with or without recent international travel
- If they are a healthcare worker with direct patient contact and have a fever (≥37.5) AND an acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat)
If they meet any of these criteria their doctor can request, they are tested for COVID-19. It is important to remember that many people with symptoms similar to COVID-19 will not have the virus. Only suspected cases are tested to ensure the labs are able cope with the demand. There is no need to test people who feel well and do not meet the criteria above
No new BlazeAid camps will be established
At the current stage, no new BlazeAid camps will be established
The current situation can change day by day
Expect, change and react
Responsibility of BlazeAid volunteers
Volunteers must agree to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and co-operate with BlazeAid with respect to any action taken by BlazeAid to comply with a requirement directed by the Health Response Sub-Committee. Failure to adhere to conditions as directed may result in removal from camp.
BlazeAid COVID-19 Hotline 24/7 – Natalie Trigwell: 0423 918 535
Official Australia wide COVID-19 hotline 24/7: 1800 020 080
For the latest advice, information and resources, go to: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert