Ebola currently appears to be unstoppable, with the Daily Telegraph reporting that ‘The number of people infected with Ebola is doubling every 20 to 30 days, and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention has forecast that there could be as many as 1.4m cases of Ebola by January, in the worst case scenario. More than 3,300 people have been killed by the disease this year.’
A graphic showing the growth in infections clearly demonstrates this exponential spread of the disease. Previously confined to areas of western Africa, on Tuesday, the first case on US soil was identified.
The Guardian suggests that ‘Though Ebola has a high fatality rate when contracted, it is not the thing that keeps most epidemiologists up at night. It could theoretically become pandemic – that is, an out-of-control global epidemic – but experts say that is unlikely.’ However, the disease a still presents an opportunity for businesses to review their resilience.
Supply Chain Resilience
Businesses need to have a clear understanding of their supply chain, and whether the delivery of goods and raw materials could be impacted by the spread of disease, or by quarantine and health precautions. In this case, travel restrictions have already been imposed and the free movement of people has been restricted.
For any emergency, it is critical that organisations can communicate with stakeholders and, particularly, the staff. Concern for the safety of staff and their on-going welfare should form the basis of any plan. In the event of pandemics, consideration should be given to quarantine, vaccination and monitoring. Additionally, it should be noted that staff may have care commitments at home which could impact their availability.
Business Continuity Planning
As the threat of Ebola isn’t diminishing, the short and long term effects on business need to be considered. If nothing else, the Ebola outbreak provides an opportunity for to review business contingency plans, and to confirm that you have effective Business Continuity and Crisis Management plans in place that will enable you to respond to an increased risk.
Can it happen here?
Whilst the current thoughts are that Ebola will not become a pandemic, although there are concerns about air-borne transmission, this does NOT mean that Ebola will not impact your business. The Daily Telegraph reports on the handling of the US case of Ebola, Thomas Eric Duncan, and notes five ‘blunders‘; it is worth considering these points as slips like these could bring the disease to your door:
- Patient allowed out of Liberia;
- Symptoms not picked up in hospital, so Duncan sent away with antibiotics;
- Ambulance used for transportation not taken out of service for decontamination for 48 hours;
- Inadequate quarantine of people closest to Duncan; and
- Children in direct contact with Duncan still attending school for 3 days after diagnosis.
To ensure that your business is ready, call us on 0800 035 1231
Written by Helen Molyneux