Streaming issues? Report here
702 logo Gradients 702 logo Gradients
Late Night Talk
00:00 - 04:00
volume_up
volume_mute

Up Next: Early Breakfast with Africa Melane
See full line-up
Late Night Talk
00:00 - 04:00
Home
arrow_forward
Business

What your business can do to deal with a potentially unusual 2020 flu season

4 March 2020 7:15 PM
Tags:
Digital technology
business unusual
Coronavirus
COVID-19

It is an issue every year, but with Covid-19 still spreading, this flu season will be an unusual one.

The information provided below applies to every flu season. However, the expectation that the 2020 flu season in South Africa could be drastically worse as a consequence of the Covid-19 outbreak makes it even more relevant this year.

South Africa has and continues to deal with significant challenges to public health. HIV infections and management, as well as high incidences of TB - compounded by many reliant on stretched public health facilities - is both a cause for concern and an indicator of the resilience of the SA health care industry.

While the new form of coronavirus will surely test South Africa’s ability to manage the outbreak, it will not be because of complacency. Follow the updates from the South African National Insitute for Communicable diseases

However, there are steps that employers and employees can take to mitigate the risk and the burden on health services for this winter.

Some common but important questions to know about Covid-19 from WHO

For Employers

This is not a comprehensive list of risk factors for Covid-19 but rather some best practice considerations for how to manage the traditional flu season with some specific extra steps to counter a potential outbreak.

  1. Encourage and ideally pay for staff to get the flu vaccination

  2. Discuss and implement a policy to have staff stay home if potentially infected

  3. Arrange for a panel of doctors to test and book staff off rather than relying on a two-day absence before requiring a medical certificate

  4. Explore options for temporary staff to cover critical areas or nominate staff than can shift roles should a critical staff member be off

  5. Ensure adequate access to hand washing options and surface disinfection to areas where staff congregate.

  6. Consider the risk of staff travelling long distances using public transport. Minibus taxis are especially at a greater risk given the extended time passengers will share a confined space

  7. Where possible, look to have staff work remotely even if for part of the week

  8. If staff need to travel; consider the implication for where they will be travelling to and the potential risk on their return

  9. If handling products that ship from countries or regions that have been negatively affected consider additional safety procedures

  10. Prioritise the protection of those at higher risk

Some common but important questions to know about Covid-19 from WHO

For the employee

1. Don’t be a hero by coming to work when you are ill

  1. Discuss the options for getting the flu vaccine this year

  2. Be mindful of how to respond to staff that report to you and their health status

  3. Enquire about your employer’s plans for dealing with the flu season and if any additional measures are considered for this season

  4. Consider what you'll do if your children’s school closes

  5. Consider what you'll do should a family member become ill and need constant support

  6. Consider holiday travel plans for potential disruption

  7. Ensure you and your family are aware of best practice to reduce viral spread

  8. Consider the impact of income loss that may result from a disruption to your shifts or ability to work

  9. Don’t abuse the situation for a short-term benefit

Some common but important questions to know about Covid-19 from WHO

The usual impact of absenteeism

According to Andrew Levy, Senior Partner of Andrew Levy Employment, South Africa has higher levels of absenteeism than can be attributed to illness.

Levy says that more days are lost to claimed illness than strikes and that it is particularly bad in the public sector while still being of concern in the private sector. The issue is not to deny staff a reasonable and legally determined amount of time to recover from illness but rather to change the view that it is part of your leave and that not using the minimum allowed 30 days in three years would be like not using all your annual leave.

While there are measures to reduce its abuse; the starting point should be staff and employers having a clear understanding of what constitutes an illness that warrants taking sick leave. In some cases employers compel workers to work who should be given time off while in other cases, staff abuse the system.

It may be that 2020 will be a particularly challenging flu season, having unreasonable employers or staff looking to abuse the system speaks to a larger issue than the public health question this poses.

The opportunity from crisis

While this is a human tragedy playing out globally with a fair measure of fear and anxiety there may be some shifts in behaviour that result as a consequence that could benefit some companies and industries more than others.

This is a good illustration of how globalised the world has become. Manufacturers may start reconsidering the wisdom of highly concentrated production centres.

During the last major outbreak with Sars in 2003 e-commerce companies especially in China reported a boost as citizens opted to avoid visiting brick and mortar stores in favour of online purchases.

The same shift is likely at play again, but now rather than relying on humans for the deliveries, the shift is to autonomous deliveries from drones to self-driving vehicles and self-operated collection points. The technology was progressing any way but this may accelerate both its adoption by users and readiness to provide permission for more extensive testing by authorities.

Another slow change that may accelerate as a consequence of the outbreak is the move to cashless and contactless payments. The fear has been that currency may provide a transmission method for viruses and bacteria. Pathogens can be carried on notes and coins but, generally, the ones that result in harmful infections don't remain active for very long. Still, even within only a day or just hours, a note may change hands many times. Chinese and British authorities have encouraged organisations that deal with large volumes of cash to disinfect it before redistributing it back into the public.

There is also a very distinct opportunity to improve global co-operation and to field test best practices, noting the adjustments that are needed from region to region. The spend on lab testing is likely to provide a boost to further research to improve the testing speed and efficacy. CT scans appear to be a fast and reliable way to determine if someone is infected, but the machines are very expensive. Additional demand might see the costs come down even though there may still be a shortage of trained staff to operate it. This may be an area where machine learning could offer a solution and benefit from the much bigger set of training data to refine the ability to identify the infection allowing for more junior operators to work as effectively as more experienced ones.

Health departments, the private sector and the public, in general, may see a long-term benefit if the mortality rates can be kept as low as possible. A better understanding of public hygiene and managing infections in growing urban environments will allow outbreaks to have less of a severe impact. The BBC considered the lessons learnt for the Spanish flu a century ago.

We have better access to updated and reliable information despite the potential for misinformation. The World Health Organisation is posting updates daily and data scientists are able to present huge datasets in a way that is easier to read and understand.

Finally, this may get those who hold negative views about the value and need for vaccinations to understand what the impact is when we don't take the precautions available. It is not about the rights of the individual being infringed; it is the rights of the groups and especially those that are most vulnerable being put at unnecessary risk by a misinformed view of when and how vaccines should be used.


4 March 2020 7:15 PM
Tags:
Digital technology
business unusual
Coronavirus
COVID-19

Recommended

More from Business Unusual

medicine pills drugs

Drug profits - a necessary evil or something that needs to change

1 July 2020 7:15 PM

Using profit to solve health issues does not work in a pandemic, perhaps at all.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Mobile phone screen social apps

Social Media - mass mobilisation and the modern mob

24 June 2020 7:15 PM

What happens when everyone has access to such powerful tools

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Death & Taxes - 123rf.;com

How the dead can solve South Africa's inequality

17 June 2020 7:56 PM

Deceased estates could help more than just surviving family members

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Petase - plastic eating enzyme

Something found in a dump may save the oceans

10 June 2020 7:15 PM

By 2050 there might be more plastic than fish in the sea

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

123rf A pile of two hundred rand notes, South African currency money

How long before everyone has access to financial services

3 June 2020 7:15 PM

Only 54% of South Africans had a bank account in 2004, the goal is to make that 90% by 2030, where are we now.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Nasa Artemis logo

The Artemis program to put a woman on the Moon

27 May 2020 7:15 PM

One of six women chosen earlier this year may be the first to walk on the moon.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

coronavirus-disease-pandemic-covid-19-123rf

How to know which numbers to track for Covid-19

13 May 2020 7:15 PM

Is understanding the numbers in a pandemic a puzzle or a mystery?

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Uber Airbnb logo

How disruptors deal with disruption

6 May 2020 7:15 PM

Can Uber and Airbnb survive being disrupted themselves?

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

face silhouette

Your face may be your most significant privacy concern

22 April 2020 7:23 PM

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If the picture is of you, it may say even more.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Contact tracing crowd people rf123

Privacy and contact tracing... it's complicated!

15 April 2020 7:15 PM

The greatest risk to your privacy may be determined by what you willingly share.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

More from Covid-19 coronavirus explained

Yebo Fresh

Township online grocer Yebo Fresh secures investment from Israeli-Canadian fund

30 June 2020 6:36 PM

Bruce Whitfield interviews Jessica Boonstra of Yebo Fresh, an affordable online grocery shop with township customers.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Ramaphosa

[WATCH] President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing a restless nation

13 May 2020 3:20 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address, right here, as it happens.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

190710-thulas-nxesi-edjpg

[WATCH LIVE] Labour Minister briefs business on Covid-19 lockdown Level 4

3 May 2020 2:22 PM

Ahead of over 1.5 million workers returning to work on Monday here are the safety measures companies need to put in place.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Old house abandoned namibia 123rfbusiness 123rflifestyle 123rf

What will become of South Africa's property market and industry after lockdown?

30 April 2020 7:52 PM

Personal finance expert Warren Ingram shares his concerns and offers a few pointers.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Mboweni

Minister Tito Mboweni wanted alcohol and cigarettes unbanned but lost the debate

30 April 2020 7:35 PM

SA has already lost R1.6 billion in taxes so far. “I lost the debate and therefore I have to toe the line,” says Minister Mboweni.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

E-commerce lockdown social distancing online shopping 123rfbusiness 123rf

E-commerce is flourishing all over the world. But not in South Africa

30 April 2020 7:20 PM

Right now, the rest of humanity is embracing e-commerce like never before. Bruce Whitfield interviews Yuppiechef's Andrew Smith.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Woman reading magazine

Covid-19 devasted Cosmopolitan publisher AMP closes shop, forever

30 April 2020 6:52 PM

The once-mighty 38-year-old media house is no more. The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Chris Botha (Park Advertising).

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Garbage junk

'S&P Global Ratings says South Africa is riskier than we were in 1994!'

30 April 2020 6:27 PM

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Kevin Lings, Chief Economist at Stanlib Asset Management.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

solidarity-fund-logo-website-screengrab

Gloria Serobe (Solidarity Fund) is one of SA's most important people right now

29 April 2020 8:32 PM

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Solidarity Fund Chairperson Gloria Serobe.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Volkswagen VW Polo

What SA’s car industry – the largest manufacturing sector – needs from Level 4

29 April 2020 6:57 PM

It accounts for about a third of SA’s entire manufacturing output (2016). Bruce Whitfield interviews Dr Martyn Davies (Deloitte).

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward