Health Agencies: Prepare Now for Coronavirus

Health Agencies: Prepare Now for Coronavirus

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the world should prepare for a possible novel coronavirus pandemic. Although the virus has spread to multiple countries, the WHO said it is too early to call the outbreak a pandemic.

A pandemic is defined as a disease that spreads easily from person to person in many parts of the world. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the coronavirus has met two of the criteria for a pandemic and is moving closer to meeting the third criteria—worldwide spread of the new virus.

On Feb. 25, officials from the CDC, the National Institutes of Health and other agencies warned the public to prepare for the “inevitable” spread of the coronavirus within the U.S., The Washington Post reported.

U.S. companies are being advised to stop employee travel to high-risk countries and develop plans to address a possible U.S. expansion of the virus, which may require limiting employee travel within the U.S. and outlining work-from-home strategies.

Most cases of the virus have been in China, where it was first reported. But there are signs the virus is taking hold in other areas: A dozen towns have been sealed off in northern Italy, where 270 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed as of Feb. 25, and the death toll there has reached seven.

The U.S. Department of State issued a “do not travel” advisory to China, and airlines around the world have canceled or scaled back flights.

Although a number of drugs are being developed and tested, there is no vaccine, resulting in quarantines wherever cases of the virus have been confirmed. In early February, China quarantined an estimated 45 million people—the largest quarantine in history—and there have been economic ramifications around the world. Travel companies have lost business and manufacturers are unable to obtain needed materials. There are fears of an economic slowdown as global financial markets on Monday experienced some of the sharpest falls in years.

As Coronavirus Spreads, Prepare Infectious-Disease Plans

While employers can take commonsense steps to prevent the spread of the virus, such as issuing travel restrictions, or more-controversial steps such as telling people to stay away from work during the 14-day incubation period if they are returning from regions with high infection rates, they might not be enough to prevent the spread of the disease. Employers in the U.S. should review their infectious-disease management plans. If they don’t have these plans, now is the time to create them.

Coronavirus Outbreak Deepens Its Toll on Global Business

The disruption of China’s manufacturing network, and slowdown of its economy, have rippled through to airlines, automakers, tech companies and more.

A loss of $29 billion in airline revenue. China auto sales down by 92 percent. Interruptions for Procter & Gamble’s 387 suppliers in China.

As the coronavirus outbreak rattles the global economy and disrupts supply chains, international companies across nearly every industry are confronting a stark reality: Business will not go on as usual.

The Wide-Ranging Ways in Which the Coronavirus Is Hurting Global Business

In China, the country’s economy is still largely in lockdown mode, stalling a global manufacturing powerhouse at the heart of nearly every industrial supply chain. As the crisis continues, businesses big and small are struggling with the disruption the pneumonia-like illness has caused, with effects reaching across the globe.

Restaurants and stores have been forcibly shut, many with paper seals to prevent owners from covertly reopening. Factory production lines are at a standstill. Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, has twice extended its holiday break, keeping tens of millions at home in an effort to contain the virus.

Companies Cut China Travel Due to Coronavirus

Companies have reduced travel to China following the outbreak of the coronavirus; are working with employees who are stuck in Wuhan, the epicenter of the infection; and are responding to U.S. employees who want to hunker down during the epidemic.

U.S. Manufacturers Scramble for Costly Alternatives as Coronavirus Cuts Chinese Supplies

The outbreak of coronavirus in China has forced U.S.-based suppliers to industrial giants such as Caterpillar Inc., Deere & Co. and Komatsu Ltd. to grapple with a surge in costs to avoid production disruptions.

Dow Tumbles Nearly 900 Points as Coronavirus Fears Continue

In the U.S., the Dow Jones and S&P 500 posted their sharpest daily declines since 2018, with the Dow falling 3.5 percent or more than 1,000 points. The S&P 500 ended the day 3.3 percent lower, while the Nasdaq sank 3.7 percent.

Coronavirus: An Employer’s Action Guide

Daily headlines about the growing coronavirus threat have many employers concerned that they are not doing all they should to protect employees without undue disruption to operations. Here are some answers that may inform your own response plan.

Source: SHRM

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