June 4th Webinar Summary: COVID-19 Workplace Strategies & Guidance, Middle East & Asia-Pacific

Workplace Strategies and Guidance in Times of COVID-19 in the Middle East & Asia-Pacific Region

Leading multinational employers and national health agencies from the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region shared how the COVID-19 crisis has affected their country and organization and discussed strategies on getting employees back to the workplace safely.

Here are the highlights:

Despite high population density and age, early exposure to the virus and moderate social distancing measures Japan has had low infection and low death from COVID19. One of the main current challenges for employees is stress from telework and mental health. A key predictor for success against the spread of infectious disease is organizational and employee health literacy.

An early lockdown strategy has prevented an explosion of cases and deaths in the second most populous country in the world. Social stigma of infection remains as a large section of people are scared of detection of positive cases in family or community. Hero Motocorp has reopened manufacturing units for employees who are physically required to be onsite with temperature screening and contact tracing with internal as well as community-based apps. Unilever has adopted gating criteria using a four tier system involving internal and external health indicators as well as market indicators related to public transportation and social gathering.

Singapore just started phase I of reopening during which approximately 75% of the economy will resume operations (shops are staying closed). This entails an aggressive focus on testing and contact tracing. A move into the second phase is expected in a few weeks if community transmission rates remain low and stable and the dormitory situation remains under control. The anticipated post-COVID “new normal” will require 50% of the workforce telecommuting from home for the time being.

United Arab Emirates
The holy month of Ramadan recently ended, which typically is a time of heavy social activity and family visits, but during COVID19 featured virtual iftars and prayers from home. The UAE will allow half of government employees to return to the office, up from 35% last week, with ongoing safety measures such as distancing, mandatory masks, temperature screening and tracing via a government app. Private sector employers are bringing employees back to work, many at a slower pace like telecommunications company du.

We would like to thank our distinguished speakers:

  • Hiroshi Fukuda, Professor, Juntendo University & Chair, SANPO Society | View Presentation
  • Rajgopal Thirumalai, Corporate Medical Director, Unilever | View Presentation
  • Simon Lim, Director, Workplace Health & Outreach Division, Health Promotion Board Singapore
  • Mansoor Habib, Head of Happiness & Tolerance, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du)
  • Shriniket Mishra, Chief Medical Officer, Hero Motocorp | View Presentation

Additional materials:

COVID‑19: Epidemiology and Public Health Aspects article in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine by Rajgopal Thirumalai | View Article

A New Horizon for Occupational Health: APEC White Paper on Workplace Mental Health and Safety | View White Paper

The Global Centre for Healthy Workplaces will continue to gather and highlight primary international resources and is currently working with global leaders to generate good practice on return to work.

For more return to work and COVID-19 resources visit www.globalhealthyworkplace.org/news-media/coronavirus-covid-19-resource-hub.


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