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Novel Coronavirus: Understanding Infectious Disease Plans

In their recent webinar on Response considerations for the Novel Coronavirus (n-CoV), Simon Petie, RiskLogic’s Regional Manager made an important comment that sits as a vital consideration and reminder around Infectious Disease Plans:

“Right now, in continental US…there is 180,000 confirmed cases of Influenza B and 10,000 deaths this flu season based off influence B. What I’d be asking everyone to think about; today is coronavirus…what are the lessons you’re learning about coronavirus today, that you may have to put into a flu season tomorrow?”

Media plays a huge role in what we digest each day. Often, the chaotic scramble by publications and newsrooms means that any new development of a viral story will be inflated far passed its original source. We’re also seeing that many advisors are suggesting “it’s time to activate your pandemic plan”. This advice is poor and incorrect. 

As organisational leaders, we are trained (or should be) to recognise and assess assumption from fact. But that doesn’t mean the rest of our people are.

An example of this is a quick look at our CQCommand software.

CQCommand Activation Novel Coronavirus

A clear spike in activation (whether serious or cautionary) occurs at the same time novel coronavirus starts dominating the search engines.

Novel Coronavirus Keyword trend google

Unfortunately, this same increase of activation rarely occurs during flu season. So far in the United States alone, nearly 35% of the 100k infected by Influenza B have been hospitalized while 78 influenza-associated deaths in children have been reported.

Only one US man has died of n-CoV in China. With these statistics, we need to remind ourselves that the 21 to 61,000 deaths each year from the flu is very close to occurring.

What you need to be asking

As the team mentioned on the webinar, you need to ask yourself a simple question:

Am I learning from the events today, to carry us tomorrow?

If you’re an internationally focused organisation constantly on the move, how are you recording this? How are you validating the plans being actioned? Are you actively seeking feedback and making tweaks where necessary? Are you confident in the differences between a Pandemic Plan and an Infectious Disease Plan?

The silver lining in this n-CoV crisis is the learning we can take from it. For this side of the world (the southern hemisphere), we have time to plan, do, check and act on the information we’ve gathered from the coronavirus. New Zealand in particular has no recorded cases of n-CoV. So, if you’re not considering this now for the flu season, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

Activities you can do today around Infectious Disease Plans

Our marketing and commercial team has watched closely while organisations, training academies and consultants have provided resource on how to activate your pandemic plan.

This advice must be considered carefully.

As a business, you don’t need a pandemic plan, that’s for the government. You need to be reviewing and considering the activation of your Infectious Disease Plan.

By looking at this now, you can access where your organisation falls in this globally focused event.

Some things to consider today:

  • Does my department or business unit have an up-to-date Business Continuity Plan?
  • Have we identified our critical business functions?
  • How would we operate with only 50% of our workforce?
  • Where would my staff relocate to if we needed to implement social distancing?
  • What specialist equipment, IT, hardware or other resources would we need?
  • Could we still operate as an effective team if we were socially distanced for an extended period of time?
  • Have we practiced this?

Remember, whatever is happening today, might not be happening tomorrow. Prepare now.


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