The threat of novel coronavirus has been significant enough for Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar to declare a public health emergency, but is the threat overhyped?
Danny Kaine, head of Assistance at Traveller Assist, a security and medical assistance company, wrote in a recent post for Security Magazine “You shouldn’t discount or disregard the virus completely just because you don’t live in or travel to China, but don’t get overly stressed or anxious about it, either.”
While highly contagious, novel coronavirus isn’t as deadly as SARS or Ebola, which had much higher fatality rates. For that matter, the common flu has killed scores more this year.
Coronavirus is transmitted the same way as the common flu and other viruses, so the best prevention is frequent, thorough handwashing with soap and water; sneezing into tissues or an elbow; staying home when sick and avoiding people who are sick; and wiping down surfaces like countertops and doorhandles frequently with disinfectant.
Businesses should also be prepared with continuity plans in the event of widespread illness, whatever the cause may be. Some areas to address:
Extending work at home options. If staff can work remotely, it might be better to encourage them to work at home rather than come into the office. Be sure that server and security infrastructure is ready to handle the load, however. Lack of preparation could lead to enhanced security risks.
Continuity planning. Cross train deeply across staff, and document roles and processes well. Map out coverage plans in the event of widespread illness. Coverage gaps could expose risks in security infrastructure that bad actors are all too ready to exploit, so maintaining readiness is essential.
Identify back ups for your supply chain. Widespread illness and efforts to contain the spread of an outbreak could disrupt supply chains and lead to shortages. Be ready to source materials from new vendors if necessary.
Revisit proper cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
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