Pandering to the pandemic: COVID-19

Mar 25, 2020

More than 400,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus, over 10,000 have died, and economic activity the world over has taken a hit. Concerted efforts are imperative, to mitigate the damage.

What is Corona, or the Coronavirus?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.”

On March 11, 2020, WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. They expressed the certainty that the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) will inevitably spread to all parts of the world. At the same time, they also suggested that governments, businesses, and individuals can change the trajectory of the disease substantially.

COVID-19 is in different phases of progression across the world. The stages are:

Things we know about COVID-19

  • The virus is highly transmissible from person to person, much more than the seasonal flu.
  • Older people with underlying health conditions are disproportionately affected

Things we are learning:

  • The extent of undetected milder cases, which the public health systems may miss
  • Seasonality
  • Asymptomatic transmission (evidence is mixed)

How would economy fare amid the global crisis?

The economy world-over is facing the brunt, however, the exact magnitude of the effect is still open for speculation. We decode it at three levels:

Impact on people

  • People may have to comply to newer and stricter set of their Government’s instructions
  • Older people will have to cut back on numerous activities
  • Youngsters will need to make significant changes in their daily activities

Impact on economies

  • Most countries have not achieved rapid control like China
  • People will have to significantly shift their daily behaviors which will impact businesses
  • Acute effect will be seen on small and mid-size companies, and less-developed economies
  • Service sectors maybe the hardest hit (could lead to consolidation)
  • Demand normalcy may return in May-June

Global impact

  • Virus is not seasonal
  • Case growth throughout Q2 and Q3, will overwhelm healthcare systems
  • Consumer confidence may plummet
  • Global growth in 2020 may fall between –1.5 percent and 0.5 per cent, which can snowball into a recession

Many multinational supply chains are affected, especially those originating in or running through China. Factory shutdowns have led to some disruptions already. Full-capacity operations have been disrupted by fast-depleting inventories and challenges in securing critical parts. Unpredictable rise in demand is the biggest challenge, with confusing signals emanating for several weeks.

As of now, there is no proven cure or vaccine, and in order to curb the spread, following measures can help:

How can companies help curb the spread!

  • Protect their employees by offering support
  • Follow WHO’s and other health agencies’ guidelines on COVID-19
  • Ensure two-way communication for safe expression and policy compliance monitoring
  • Set up a cross-functional COVID-19 response team
  • Maintain sufficient liquidity to weather the storm
  • Stabilize supply chains through proper planning
  • Stay close to customers through effective distribution
  • Plan for disruptions

How individuals can help!

As an individual, you will need to maintain the basic hygiene to curb the spread. Here are some things you can do to help curb the spread

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. This kills viruses that might be on your hands.
  • Maintain at least a meter of social distancing between yourself and anyone coughing or sneezing, to avoid accidentally breathing in virus-bearing droplets.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, to stop the virus from entering the body.
  • Practice respiratory hygiene while coughing or sneezing by covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue and then disposing off the used tissue immediately.
  • Seek early medical care if you have fever, cough and breathing troubles.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell.
  • Follow advice from your national and local public health authority, your healthcare provider, or your employer.

Messy Myths!

Believe the following at your own – and other’s – peril:

  • The virus cannot be transmitted in hot and humid climates
  • Snow and other cold weather kill the virus
  • A hot bath can prevent the diseas
  • Mosquito bites can transmit the virus
  • Hand-dryers are effective in killing the virus
  • Thermal scanners can detect infected people
  • Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over the body kills the virus
  • Saline nasal rinsing prevents virus infection
  • Eating garlic prevents virus infection

At this juncture the end seems unclear. So far the impact of pandemic on the humans has been tragic. Companies must do their best to help mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak at the earliest.

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