In light of the current situation with the COVID-19 coronavirus, Daisy’s business continuity management consultancy team provides some high-level guidance for planning and response for a potential pandemic illness outbreak.
What is the risk of catching coronavirus in the UK?
The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. But the risk to individuals remains low. Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus.
Symptoms of coronavirus
- A cough
- A high temperature
- Shortness of breath
How is coronavirus spread between people?
Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread by cough droplets.
How to avoid catching and spreading germs
There are things you can do to help stop germs like coronavirus spreading:
- Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with unwell people
- If any of your employees have arrived back from affected areas, follow the advice provided by the government for returning travellers
Treatment for coronavirus
There is no specific treatment for coronavirus. Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms.
Planning: pre-pandemic phase
Organisations should be planning for the occurrence in advance of any potential outbreak. At this phase key elements to consider:
- Read the UK government guidance and pandemic checklist for businesses and use it (and this Pandemic Guidance document) to help you prepare – link provided below
- Monitor available resources for advice and information on current status of outbreak
- Review and test your business continuity and communications plans so they are up to date
- Confirm the number of people who are able to work from home (i.e. have a laptop and a VPN connection), and look to provide equipment to increase this number if possible
- Test all remote working technology as home / remote working will become more prevalent
- Understand your criticalities ahead of time so that you can prioritise your workload in the event of reduced staff numbers (use your BIA to identify this)
- Review your HR policies to ensure they make adequate provision for potential issues
- Issue guidance and instructions to your staff and visitors regarding your response to outbreak
- Monitor staff who have returned from affected areas, imposing self-isolation for 14 days if they exhibit symptoms
Response: pandemic phase
When a pandemic is declared (usually by the World Health Organisation), in addition to the work you have done to prepare, there are a number of key activities that can be used to limit the spread and the impact on businesses:
- Work from home wherever possible
- Limit or cancel business travel – both internationally and between your sites
- Limit or cancel face-to-face meetings; revert to remote working wherever possible
- Limit or cancel all non-essential visits to your sites by third parties
- Promote best practice hygiene (hand washing, sanitising etc.), making appropriate materials available
- Increase cleaning regimes
- Staff with confirmed or suspected cases should stay away from work, usually for 14 days
- Monitor illness rates; re-direct available resources to carry out critical tasks, suspending all non-critical activity as required
- Liaise with suppliers and stakeholders to ensure they are putting in place appropriate plans
There are a number of key sources of information on guidance on this topic. These should be referenced as they are the foremost sources of expertise:
- http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country – or call on 0845 850 2829 for latest information.