Preparing for the new coronavirus outbreak

Article

Practical steps for business preparedness

Responding to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic

Since the novel strain of coronavirus was first identified in December 2019, public authorities internationally are taking decisive action to respond to this emerging public health threat which has caused many within the business community to reconsider the adequacy of their pandemic preparedness measures.

To date, thousands of infection cases have been detected in more than 150 locations internationally, including in the United States.1

Public authorities have responded to this emerging public health threat by issuing travel advice, quarantining cities, and convening an Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO). On March 11, the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic.

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

Early Intervention

  • Assess organizational exposure. Organizations with key supply chain dependencies 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 crisis response plans. It is essential for your organization’s resilience to ensure your 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 the latest travel guidance for all affected areas and review internal travel policies. Aligning with any third-party providers and the capability to rapidly communicate with business travelers are important.
Early Intervention

Communicate internally and externally

  • Communicate with your employees early and often. Employees will rightly expect their 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 encourage functions and teams to review their pandemic arrangements.
  • Engage with critical suppliers. Businesses should have line-of-sight into their critical suppliers’ pandemic preparedness measures and encourage ongoing dialogue on current-state readiness.
  • 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 the latest statistics on suspected cases which can provide useful metrics to track the evolving threat. Businesses should 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’s Crisis and Resilience teams support clients before, during, and after high-impact events. With extensive experience in helping clients prepare for emerging public health risks, we can assist you in understanding the broad implications of the risk landscape, identifying ways to manage issues, and helping you prepare for the worst so you can emerge stronger and more resilient.

London
Tim Johnson
timjohnson@deloitte.co.uk

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Michael Mueller
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Danny Tinga
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Fernando Picatoste
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Neil Bourke
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Simon Cuerden
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Kaname Miki
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Masahiko Sugiyama
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Shree Parthasarathy
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Bum Seok Moon
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He Lin Goh
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Christina Y. Tseng
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Eddie Chiu
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Scenario Planning contacts

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Gopi Billa
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Andrew Blau
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