COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. It has already negatively impacted the global economy as a whole. The disruption of global supply chains can result in significant loss of revenue for organisations. Traditional resilience planning is not enough to prepare for a pandemic. Businesses must incorporate pandemic planning considerations into exiting resilience management activities to provide a comprehensive response, while also considering pandemic-specific policies and procedures, capabilities for employee communications, telecommuting and personal/family leave to minimize disruptions.
Planning for and responding to a pandemic is complex, as health professionals prepare, so must businesses to ensure that there is a plan in place to combat the effects of a pandemic.
This article will cover the following topics:
· What is a pandemic?
· How to help minimise a pandemic
· Workplace pandemic preparedness plans
What is a Pandemic?
A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. A pandemic occurs when a new disease or contagious infection emerges for which people have little or no effective treatment or vaccine. The disease spreads easily person-to-person, will cause serious illness, and can sweep across the country and around the world in very little time. Employees will receive public health alerts regularly once conditions escalate to high.
The World Heath Organisation has predicted that an influenza pandemic could claim 4 to 30 times more lives worldwide than a typical flu season. The US National Library of Medicine, 2003 predicted that the next influenza pandemic could claim 4 to 30 times more lives across the world. Seasonal influenza outbreak occur following predicable seasonal patterns and some immunity is built up from previous exposures. Healthy adults are not normally at risk or serious complication form seasonal influenza. During on-pandemic times, children are the demographic where most influenza occurs. However serious morbidity and mortality occurs almost exclusively in those with chronic underlying illness and the elderly. Demographic patterns and morbidity rates change during a pandemic.
Help to Minimize a Pandemic
One of the best ways to minimize a pandemic is to limit the spread of bacteria through good hygiene practises. According to the World Health Organisation, these practices include:
· Regularly cleaning your hands with an alcohol-based ( at least 60% alcohol) rub or washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
· Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
· Staying home when you are sick. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical attention. Call by telephone in advice if possible, this will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility.
· Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
· Practise other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, mange your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
Workplace Pandemic Preparedness Plans
There are many resources available to support the development of pandemic preparedness plans for your organisation. Preparation can strengthen the capability of your organisation to respond to different pandemic scenarios.
All organisations should adopt robust and flexible generic business continuity management arrangements which will help ensure that the impact of any disruptions will be minimized. A plan should address your organisations supply chain, communication standards, procedures for working remotely and travel policy.
A pandemic will require employees to stay home in order to limit exposure and to prevent or slow down the spread of the disease, requiring the activation of remote working capabilities.
Unlike an occasional weather event, which may prompt some employees to work remotely, a pandemic may lead to a complete shutdown of the entire facility in an area, forcing a high number of employees to work remotely for an extended duration. This may in turn result in heavier-than-normal traffic on remote connectivity networks, causing capacity and load access issues.
Your organisation should invest in tools to enable employees to work remotely and collaborate virtually, assess their current bandwidth to support remote work, perform periodic network stress testing and identify workarounds for critical tasks that are not executable from home. It is worth noting that while remote working is a viable option for the service sector, it does not work as well for manufacturing, thus resulting in critical impacts on product supply chains.
Effective communication during any crisis is essential to maintaining customer trust, restoring employee morale and confidence, and retaining market stability. While organisations have a communications strategy and designated points of contact to engage with internal and external stakeholders, often times the messaging is inconsistent and untimely. For organisations that have both retail and corporate customers, consistent messaging is key. All channels must reconcile (e.g., social media, customer call centres, public relations releases).
Nominate a business spokesperson , and ensure that all employees know who it is. It is key to keep employees well informed about progress, especially if all employees cannot remain on-site during recovery.
Coordinate with local public health and emergency response agencies on appropriate message and information sharing initiatives.
Develop internal and external information sharing processes and protocols tailor to each audience group. Use tele- or video conferencing calls (Skype) to avoid contact in person
What should we be aware of for COVID-19?
When a person is infected with COVID-19, they may have little or no symptoms, and the symptoms they do show can be easily confused with a cold or seasonal flu.
COVID-19 appears to mainly spread from person-to-person when people are in close contact with one another (within about 2 metres or 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
It is possible that it can spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects – when you touch a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touch their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
If you have any questions or would like to know more, contact Glennon Digital Marketing today.