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Research and Briefings

Outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics: Preparedness and response strategies


Over the last century, tens of millions of lives have been claimed by pandemics, epidemics, and outbreaks that also have wreaked havoc on businesses and damaged national economies. Despite advances in medicine and improved infection control practices, the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak originating in Wuhan, China — which the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a public health emergency of international concern — along with the Zika pandemic and Ebola virus and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus outbreaks in the last decade are stark reminders of the social, economic, and geopolitical dangers posed by rapidly spreading disease.

To effectively prepare and respond to these threats, businesses should take a two-pronged approach:

  • Establish strategies that cover emergency response, business continuity, crisis management, and crisis communications, not only to be ready to monitor the progress of an emerging outbreak and understand its potential effects, but to protect employees and continue operations in case of border restrictions, supply chain issues, and more localized direct impacts.
  • Understand how existing insurance coverages may respond to an outbreak, and make any necessary changes to policies.

Outbreaks, Epidemics, and Pandemics: Preparedness and Response Strategies identifies the main challenges that organizations may face during the novel coronavirus health emergency and other outbreaks and looks at actions that risk professionals can take to mitigate these risks. The report also looks at several specific industries, such as health care, education, hospitality and restaurants, and marine, and highlights the need to develop clearly defined pandemic response escalation thresholds and robust insurance programs well ahead of an event.

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