29 Apr Why we cannot be complacent about COVID-19 moving forward
Businesses and governments are cautiously exploring lifting COVID-19 restrictions, but it is important we don’t get too complacent too soon.
In Australia, the Queensland Government has eased restrictions allowing for travel of up to 51km from home and picnics in the park.
The National Rugby League has bold plans to return to action by the end of May while sporting leagues around the world including soccer leagues in Europe have similar ambitions.
Non-essential retailers are being allowed to re-open their doors – albeit with strict social distancing guidelines – and the wheels are slowly starting to turn for a slow comeback from the deadly virus.
Slow is the important word here.
Because prematurely opening borders, going back to offices and places of work and allowing for mass international travel could have devastating consequences.
History shows us that the second wave of COVID-19 could be worse than the first
A social media post has been doing the rounds claiming that the first wave of Spanish flu killed between 3-5 million people, while the second wave killed 20-50 million people.
It is a post that has been widely spread and has caused significant alarm and reaction amongst social media audiences.
But this post has no source, no citation and the original author did not respond when questioned on it by media outlet USA Today.
The true scope of that global pandemic – which lasted two years – is difficult to ascertain.
We didn’t have the technological advances we enjoy today back then and health records are incomplete and often incorrect.
But it is widely accepted that around 500 million people were infected with 20-50 million people dying as a result.
It is also accepted as fact that the second wave was more deadly than the first, because of the movement of soldiers during World War I.
The numbers are not clear, but the message is not. Relaxing COVID-19 restrictions and allow mass movement of people around their countries and the world would likely have devastating outcomes.
Other global pandemics and the impacts of the second wave
The Asian Flu of 1957 originated in China before reaching Singapore, Hong Kong, the US and finally the world.
Of the three flu pandemics of the 20th century, it was the least damaging but as many as 2 million lives were still lost.
The second wave was much more potent than the first, although this influenza variant was successfully stopped in its tracks by the rapid deployment of a vaccine and the use of antibiotics.
The 1968 flu (also called Hong Kong Flu) pandemic broke out in July of 1968 and lasted well into 1970.
Again, official figures are difficult to ascertain but it is understood that as many as 4 million lives were lost.
Researchers believe that the transmissibility of this strain of influenza virus mutated between the first and second waves and many more lives were lost in the second round than the first.
The current global state of COVID-19
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there were 2,883,603 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally (correct on April 28).
Of those cases, 198,842 people have died.
While Australia has been enjoying success in flattening the curve with several states recording multiple days of zero infection, other regions have not.
In the Americas infection rates have been rising rapidly, peaking at 52,138 confirmed cases on April 5 – an increase of 14,148 in just one day.
The Eastern Mediterranean region spiked at 6212 cases on April 26 with a daily increase of 904 while had 691 new cases in a day to peak at 1405 confirmed cases on April 24.
There are almost 1 million confirmed cases in the United States alone, followed by Spain (207,634 cases), Italy (197,675), Germany (155,193) and the UK (152,844).
A different kind of normal
So, while there have been encouraging signs in some pockets of the world (like Australia), COVID-19 is still spreading through other countries like wildfire.
Many businesses and individuals are asking the question: “When will things return to normal?”
That depends on the interpretation of normal. If you mean going back to the way we operated up until January 2020, then the answer is a very long time – maybe never.
Australia can afford baby steps back towards opening business operations, other countries can not.
The reality we face is a new normal, where the business landscape is changed forever with new methods of operation and new supply chain, logistics and procurement methods.
While Australia has cause for optimism, we cannot pop the champagne bottles just yet.
Or we could face the deadly consequences of the second wave of COVID-19.
How SPR can keep your business operations running
Of course, Australia (and every other country) can not afford to abandon ship on the economy forever.
People need to work, products need to be manufactured and delivered and services need to be provided.
That means our essential workers are still out there on the front line, facing the real fear of contracting COVID-19.
Employers can use the SPR portal to send quick surveys to workers, contractors and visitors that include symptom checks, whether they have been in contact with COVID-19 and if they have recently travelled overseas.
This data reaches a central dashboard before they make contact with job sites and alerts are raised from these surveys to help minimise the potential for exposure to the virus.
These forms can also be used by health professionals, tradespeople, delivery drivers and other mobile workers to determine the health and travel status of households before they enter them.
SPR is available totally free for all small businesses (up to 50 licences) as well as not-for-profit organisations. Larger companies have access to heavily discounted rates as well, have a chat with us to find out more.