Cartus Takes on COVID-19 with Actionable Insights and Best Practices
Following the declaration by World Health Organization on January 30, 2020, that the novel coronavirus—now officially known as COVID-19—is a public health emergency of international concern, and the subsequent announcement by Singapore (and many other countries) to deny Chinese passport-holders or those who have travelled to Mainland China in the past 14 days from entering or transiting in our shores from February 1, it is hard for someone like me, who is staying in Singapore, not to be worried.
Just before the announcement on February 1, our country's sentiment was still to "avoid overreacting" and to observe further developments. But shortly after the news of escalating cases of death and infections within a few days, we have also taken the difficult decision to close our doors to Mainland China travellers as a precautionary measure.
In Singapore—the second most favored tourist spot for Wuhan tourist after Bangkok—we have seen more people wearing masks on the streets and shops wiped out of masks as people rushed to stock up on them. And last week, our government also distributed masks island-wide to all Singapore residents' households to ensure all residents have access to masks.
Amidst these fast and furious announcements and the endless updates on social media and news channels, we want to remind ourselves not to overreact but to fuel our fear with knowledge instead, which is our best weapon in protecting ourselves and getting through this uncertain time.
Based on the latest statistics and according to Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, over 60,000 people die from flu or flu-like illnesses every year. Those most likely to die from COVID-19 are people over age 65, those with compromised immune systems, or those with pre-existing conditions. All those in the United States, Singapore, and other countries being treated for the virus are showing positive response.
Unlike SARS (2003), which had a 10% fatality rate, COVID-19 (which is from the same family as SARS) is showing only a 2% fatality rate. So while it may spread easier, it is far less fatal if you get it. Thus, as an individual, we should focus on keeping our immunity up and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, observing good oral hygiene, and seeking medical help should we develop any flu symptom to prevent from spreading the virus.
Relocation Best Practices
While we are comforted by these facts, we also know that we still have a long way to go in fighting off this virus in the months to come and for a vaccine to be developed. As the global relocation leader, Cartus is working closely with our destination providers and clients in establishing communication channels and support to ensure your assignees' safety and needs are met throughout this time no matter where they are located. Some of the supports in place include:
- Accountability and tracking of employees by keeping a comprehensive list of employees in various affected countries
- Offering Destination Service support such as housing aid and transport, and cost analysis for employee evacuation/ extended home leave
- Analyzing remote locations to determine if location-specific support for supplies are needed
- Creating formal protocols for voluntary and involuntary evacuations (specific to companies with expats directly in Wuhan)
- Keeping critical employee-facing vendors updated with client's protocols regarding Coronavirus and related updates so as to answer questions from transferees and assignees
You may read more on policy making, planning, and impact to relocation on www.cartus.com/coronavirus. Please bookmark this page, as we will be updating it with new developments on the situation and other useful resources as appropriate.