Business Continuity : Influenza Pandemic (Updated)
The outbreak of a coronavirus in China continues to cause concern. This has now spread to other countries across the world and the number of official infections continues to increase at a rapid rate. There have been cases of confirmed human to human transmission and the incubation period has been observed up to 14 days. 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. A number of (mainly Asian) airports have
implemented rigorous medical checks and health declaration forms for arriving passengers and asked for increased vigilance in the medical community. Latest developments include a travel warning for China issued by the UK government and restrictions of travel for people across international borders.
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. Some questions to ask yourself are as follows:
- How would your business survive with half the workforce?
- What would do if staff and their families were infected?
- How would you communicate with your clients and other stakeholders?
- Would you restrict overseas travel?
- How does your business plan to handle the financial impact?
If you would like to know how to prepare for such a worst case scenario, please contact me for a meeting.