Coronavirus OutbreakFebruary 12, 2020
“Coronavirus” is a very common type of virus that can be found in upper respiratory system in humans, mammals, and birds. Famous examples of previous coronavirus outbreaks include SARS and MERS.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has formally named the novel coronavirus "COVID-19". The current threat erupted in December in China and has made its way across the world and into Canada.
It is extremely important to note that according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the risk level in Canada and for Canadian travellers remains low.
As with any rapidly evolving health situation there is always uncertainty. Be prepared to respond to the situation as it changes.
It all starts with protecting yourself by maintaining good hygiene. The following preventative actions can be taken to defend against any virus:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Remember to cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue and then throw away the tissue and wash your hands or use a sanitizer
- Regularly disinfect your hands, surfaces and objects, such as desks and shared areas.
- Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing
- If you have flu-like symptoms and/or have recently traveled to an affected region, immediately consult your health care provider, follow their directions and advise your company.
- If you are ill stay home, (let your work know if needed) and recover.
- Avoid travel to higher risk areas and impacted regions
- Get information from credible sources as misinformation can spread quickly
As a preparedness and resiliency practitioner, there are steps you can take to respond to the ongoing situation and protect your organization.
Review any potential impacts to your organization. Consider:
- What is happening amongst your staff? Are there any illnesses?
- Review your "work from home" policies, practices and tools (IT).
- Educate your staff on smart health habits (see practices above).
- Are there any health and safety concerns?
- Are you susceptible to a cyber attack? Spam, phishing and ransomware play on people's fear
- Phishers may attempt to hook victims for their credentials, under the guise of a legitimate organization and using COVID-19 as bait
- Business Operations:
- Review your BCP through the lens of an infectious disease. Have you considered a loss of staff?
- Review your BIA. What are your time critical processes?
- Consider the impacts to your critical vendors and suppliers. How are they impacted?
- Will a loss of a vendor/supplier or reduced service impact your operations?
- Review your PPE inventory (e.g. hand sanitizer, masks, disinfecting wipes, etc.)
- Brand and Reputation:
- Consider communicating with your stakeholders about the status of your organization and any plans you have in place.
- Do you have holding statements ready?
- Are your Crisis Communications advisors at the ready?
- Infectious Disease/Pandemic Plans;
- Emergency Response Plan;
- Incident Response Plan;
- Business Continuity Plan;
- Crisis Management Plan,
- Crisis Communications Plan, etc.
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC): https://www.canada.ca/coronavirus
Centers for Disease Control (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/
World Health Organization (WHO): https://www.who.int/
Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Tracker: https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6