January 31, 2020
Rescue Global is commenting on this today as a result of questions from clients, staff and partners who are spread worldwide. This follows the coronavirus being declared a global health emergency by WHO (World Health Organisation).
From our CEO, and leadership team.
Bottom lines up front:
1. We believe that many people and organisations are not taking this seriously enough. This evidenced by the lack of “changing” of behaviours, despite the need to do so, outside of China
2. We believe that the numbers of those effected, will rise significantly above what they are currently reported as, inside and outside of China
3. There are things that people and organisations can and should do as preventative (proactive) measures, rather than “waiting” and reacting if necessary. The point is to avoid needing to react to the worst case.
Well, for example for us a Rescue Global, this has meant that:
• We have cancelled international flights and are avoiding international airports and train stations. Why? Because these are major concentrations of people from hugely diverse locations, many of which have little to no awareness of the risks
• We have cancelled attendance at a concert (in London) where an international performer will be running their show. Why? Because it is a concentration of people from all over the world, in a confined area
• We have cancelled a strategic meeting of all our Directors (who were meeting in London in a few weeks). Why? Because as part of our business continuity planning, we don’t put all our key people in the same place at the same time, in a major population centre
• We have told all of our staff (throughout Asia), that they must monitor their health and those around them. And that we may switch them to working from home for our staff at very short notice. We have told our clients that this is our plan
• We have made sure that all our staff and families are aware of the advice, tracking (of the virus) and real guidance available, rather than relying on the news. A good source is:
IS IT EXTREME TO TAKE MEASURES NOW?
No. It isn’t.
We recommend that no matter where you are, that you take the preventative measures listed in the above World Health Organisation (WHO) pages, and:
DON’T be afraid to make changes in your (personal and work) plans, such as cancelling international travel and attendance at major sporting events (for example)
DON’T be embarrassed about being that guy or that girl, who is taking this seriously and going against the tide of complacency
DON’T exercise that all too common work ethic or “crack on” and “grind through” when you are unwell. It isn’t helpful to yourself and it is not a very team minded approach to friends and colleagues. If you aren’t well, stay at home. Take advice from your doctor, and limit spread. That’s as true for colds, flu’s etc as it is for coronavirus
DO be aware. Not unreasonably worried or nervous for no reason. Educate yourself about the risks and operate a YELLOW, ORANGE, RED personal or organisational awareness posture. Note we didn’t say GREEN! Explanation:
GREEN would be “no risks at all, no need to change anything”. So, where there is no global health alert. Clearly, nowhere should be at GREEN then
YELLOW would be in countries where there are no reports of any cases yet, but there could be, so you take reasonable precautions. See WHO list, which includes personal hygiene, not going to countries that are above YELLOW, and limiting exposure to obvious areas like airports. Refreshing business continuity and family emergency plans etc would be well advised. Note: If you are in a country that DOES have some confirmed cases already (UK, USA for example), then you aren’t at YELLOW, your are (at the very least) at:
AMBER would be in countries where there are already reports of cases and it is possible therefore that more can develop. In these countries it would be important to take precautions as per the WHO list, including personal hygiene, not going to countries that are above YELLOW, and limiting exposure to obvious areas like airports, also cancelling meetings / events where key people are all together at the same time, also enacting (rather than just refreshing) business continuity and family emergency plans
RED would be countries where a serious outbreak has occurred, and so major lock downs, cancelling of travel, closing of businesses and more occurs. Note: That includes China of course. Further note, China (at RED) had direct flights to all over the world, until very recently. So, a country at RED, had direct aviation to countries who were at GREEN and so YELLOW (which leads to AMBER AND RED). Why? Because often it is difficult to get immediate agreement as to when to go large with a response, due to politics, different ways of categorising risk, and international trade, stock markets and more.
You may well be in a country that you consider to be at GREEN, and so you may well not be doing anything different today than you always do, except maybe watching the news and worrying a bit. In reality, you are very likely in a country that is (at least) at YELLOW, or AMBER. In which case, taking no action, and making no changes to your behaviour, is a really bad idea.
Use the OODA Loop model of behaviour (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act)
Observe: the problem
Orient: yourself to it
Decide: what to do (based on sound advice)
Act: as appropriate, to the risk level you are at
• Be aware and understand the risks
• Understand the level of alert (see yellow, amber, red as above) that you should be at
• Take actions (not including freaking out) that are appropriate to that alert level
• Continue to consider what alert level you are at, and go back to “being aware” and continue this loop until there is no longer any risk from this virus
Further information to consider:
How unusual is this declaration?
The WHO declares a Public Health Emergency of International Concern when there is “an extraordinary event which is determined… to constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease”.
It has previously declared five global public health emergencies:
• Swine flu, 2009 -The H1N1 virus spread across the world in 2009, killing more than 200,000 people
• Polio, 2014 - Although closer than ever to eradication in 2012, polio numbers rose in 2013
• Zika, 2016 - The WHO declared Zika a public health emergency in 2016 after the disease spread rapidly through the Americas
• Ebola, 2014 and 2019 - The first emergency over the virus lasted from August 2014 to March 2016 as almost 30,000 people were infected and more than 11,000 died in West Africa
So, take this seriously.