Preparing for the new coronavirus outbreak

Article

Practical steps for pandemic preparedness

Preparing for the new coronavirus outbreak

A novel strain of coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, in December 2019. Public authorities internationally are taking decisive action to respond to this emerging public health threat, which has caused the business community to reconsider the adequacy of its own pandemic preparedness measures.

To date, thousands of infection cases have been confirmed within and outside of China.

Public authorities in China and internationally are taking decisive action to respond to this emerging public health threat: issuing travel advice, quarantining cities and convening an Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO). On 30th January, the WHO declared a global emergency.

This escalating threat has led businesses to consider their own pandemic preparedness measures. It is important that organizations are proactive and prepared, while remaining pragmatic, as the situation continues to quickly evolve.

Practical advice for pandemic preparedness

Early Intervention

  • Assess organizational exposure. Organizations with key dependencies in China will need to take decisive action in response to the emerging threat. Businesses should understand their exposure to the threat to determine what constitutes a proportionate response.
  • Review your pandemic and crisis plans. It is essential for your organization’s resilience to ensure your pandemic plans are up-to-date and fit-for-purpose. 
  • Prepare for a proportionate response. Determine meaningful organizational activation and deactivation triggers and review continuity procedures to better understand your critical staff, functions and operational hubs.
  • Monitor your global travel policy. Organizations should proactively monitor latest travel guidance for all affected areas and review travel policies. Aligning with any third-party providers and the capability to rapidly communicate with business travellers are important.
Early Intervention

Communicate internally and externally

  • Communicate with your employees early and often. Employees will rightly expect organizations to provide accurate, authoritative information. Organizations can build pandemic awareness into business-as-usual internal communications: share information and infographics from authorities; educate business travelers on measures to take and symptoms to look out for; and encouraging functions and teams to review their pandemic arrangements.
  • Engage with critical suppliers. Businesses should have sight of their critical suppliers’ pandemic preparedness measures and encourage ongoing dialogue on current-state readiness should the threat materialize.
  • Remain in contact with key stakeholders. Businesses may need to coordinate with local and national public authorities as part of regional preparedness activity. Communications with other stakeholders, including investors and customers, will be key to maintaining stakeholder confidence.
Communicate internally and externally

Monitor and review your response

  • Stay up-to-date with the latest advice and information. International and national public health bodies will continue to provide information and advice. They will also publish latest statistics on suspected cases which will provide useful metrics to track the evolving threat. Businesses will need to ensure that this is being built into organizational preparedness measures.
  • Keep plans, policies and procedures actively under review. Organizational preparedness is an iterative process. Plans, policies and procedures should be adaptive and flexible to the emerging threat to ensure an organization remains prepared and protects its people, reputation, strategy and bottom line.
Monitor and review your response

Deloitte member firms’ Crisis and Resilience teams support their clients before, during and after high-impact events. With extensive experience in helping their clients prepare for pandemic risks: supporting them to understand the full implications of the risk landscape, manage issues and prepare for the worst.

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Tim Johnson
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Michael Mueller
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