Coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19)
The novel coronavirus epidemic is a major global health concern. To help prevent the spread of the new virus, organizations, businesses, and enterprises are protecting their workforce and allowing employees to work remotely. This practice helps limit individual contact with large groups or crowds (e.g., restaurants, offices, transit) where viruses can easily spread.
As such, ‘stay at home’ is a common phrase in many health-conscious regions this week. According to the BBC, the city of Suzhou said businesses would remain closed until Feb 8, if not longer. As of 2018, Suzhou had a population of more than 10.7 million people.
On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization labeled the outbreak as a global health emergency. In response, the U.S. Department of issued a Level 4 travel advisory to China (do not travel).
Precautions like these are causing unexpected increases in mobile workers; many organizations don’t have enough virtual private network (VPN) licenses to accommodate the increase of users. This is a serious risk as employees will either not have access to business resources or, worse, they will do so via non-secure connections.
Organizations and enterprises in affected areas should review their business continuity plans. The National Law Review published a useful primer for employers and organizations managing workforces susceptible to coronavirus outbreaks. In addition, leverage SonicWall’s ‘5 Core Practices to Ensure Business Continuity.”
What is the coronavirus?
Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a respiratory illness first identified in Wuhan, China, but cases have since been reported in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, and nine other countries. In an effort to contain the virus, the Chinese authorities have suspended air and rail travel in the area around Wuhan.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), early patients in the outbreak in China “reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.”
The latest situation summary updates are available via the CDC: 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.