Business Continuity : Influenza Pandemic
Recently there has been an outbreak of a coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan. This has now spread to other countries in the region. The Chinese Government have confirmed human to human transmission and there has been cases reported in the rest of China as well as in Thailand, South Korea and Japan. The spread of the infection has of course been made possible by air travel. Asian countries have now started to enact their Influenza Pandemic processes especially as this is a time where travel is at its peak throughout the region.
But how can this impact us here in Britain? As we saw in the SARS pandemic, air travel speeds up the spread of these viruses. In fact some viruses have incubation periods of days where symptoms are mild or not shown and the host maybe very mobile during that time spreading the infection through many possible contacts in airports, hotels, visitor, etc. A number of Asian airports have implemented medical checks and health declaration forms for arriving passengers and asked for increased vigilance in the medical community.
Fortunately, the UK Government has established plans for an Influenza Pandemic and in particular has developed a Pandemic influenza checklist for businesses
This checklist may not be that comprehensive but acts as a good starting point for a business to create a pandemic plan as part of its Business Continuity Process. The author having directly experienced the SARS pandemic and being involved in other staged pandemic exercises that in is very plain to see many organisations would struggle in the case of a large epidemic in the UK.
Not many business are aware that under a pandemic the UK government forecasts that half the population maybe infected and between 20,000 and 750,000 extra deaths recorded. The collapse in economic activity would be significant and the impact on all UK businesses would be acute. How would your business survive with half the workforce? What would do if staff were infected? How would you communicate with your clients and other stakeholders? Would you restrict overseas travel?
If you would like to know how to prepare for such a worst case scenario, please contact me for a meeting.