There has been a lot going on with the novel coronavirus in the past few days. Here are some of the highlights:
We finally have a name. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been very sensitive to the stigma a disease can cause on a region, so they exercised great caution in the naming of the novel coronavirus “COVID-19.”
We reached a landmark on Monday afternoon, Feb. 10, in the when the fatality rate rose above 1,000. According to WHO, the death toll is now 1,017 with 42,708 confirmed cases (Feb. 11, 2020). Singapore has the largest numbers of cases (on land) outside of China with 45 infections.
The Dream Princess, a ship of the Princess Cruises, has been docked in Yokohama Japan since the first passengers became ill over a week ago. The ship carrying 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew onboard set sail on Jan. 20. More than 135 guests have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 and all are under quarantine on the ship. Princess Cruise Lines has done an exceptional job of managing the crisis publicly and has produced excellent communications on its website. Check out the regular updates at https://www.princess.com. (Click on the red update box to see their communications.) A great case study in real time. Also, the video by Rai Calouri, executive vice president of fleet operations, is impressive.
Singapore has been hard hit with the virus with 45 cases and two of those cases in the financial center of the city. They have been very calm and measured in their approach and have fully implanted their pandemic plans. They have the benefit of having dealt with SARS in 2003 and that has played to their advantage. Check out the brilliant video from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, where he urges Singaporeans to have an attentive but calm approach to the COVID-19. He gives them solid information about what is being done, what the risks are and also encourages citizens to take courage during this time. It is wonderful, clear crisis communications messaging – what any country would want from their leader at a stressful time. Pass it on to your executives and communications teams. It is a good template to follow.
Lastly, what you are doing about your crisis communications? Have you developed all of your holding statements for your key stakeholders right now? This should be what you are doing at your company to prepare. Reviewing your infectious disease and pandemic plan, training your employees, reviewing your supply chain, and more. You should also have holding statements ready if one of your employees, contractors, or visitors come down with COVID-19. Don’t be flat-footed. Be ready and prepared so your teams know what to do and say when a big customer or investor calls to ask what you are doing to get ready for a possible pandemic. It is all over the news and people are starting to pay attention.