As the pandemic starts to take hold around the planet reports are coming in that what we are witnessing is a mild to moderate sickness with a low mortality rate. This is true and we can be thankful that if this does turn out to be the next 'once-a-century global pandemic' where everyone gets infected, at least it's not the bird flu that was killing some 50%.
That's not to say that this pandemic flu can not mutate to a more deadly strain, or combine with the deadly bird flu strain to the become so called 'Armageddon strain' that is highly infectious and but according to most scientists this is considered 'very small chance'
Lets hope not. Lets hope it does not get any worse than this mild to moderate type we are experiencing, which at the time of this writing has seen 763 cases worldwide and seventeen deaths.
Let's also not under estimate what lies in store either. 763 cases worldwide and seventeen deaths is a 2.2% mortality rate. The worst outbreak in history, the 1918 Spanish Influenza, had a mortality rate of just under 3%.
So in actual fact this new influenza pandemic is pretty high up there, and it's just started. It still has time to mutate to the more dangerous strain. It is evidently infectious (human to human), and despite the only reason we have not seen many deaths outside of Mexico is because the statistics have not allowed for it yet. When infections in other countries reach 50 they should have already seen their first deaths.
The public should not panic, this is true, but they will anyway, and the numbers will drive it upwards. Educating yourself and others is all we can do to try to keep panic in check.
Many of those interviewed after recovery say it was the worst sickness they have ever experienced. They can not eat, get up to go to the toilet or clean themselves. Yes most will survive but it is not something you want to go through. Nobody is immune and if it continues to go global it is highly unlikely for anyone to escape exposure.
Lets look at the numbers again though. Half the population will be the lucky ones and will not suffer any symptoms at all. The rest will suffer varying degrees of sickness from mild to severe (sometimes 15%?), With 2 in a hundred dying.
Whilst 2% is horrible, society will recover quickly. Businesses which have survived through it will have lost 2% of their staff over an 18 month period, probably less than their normal turnover.
What they will have to face though is 18 months of the high absenteeism rates people have talked about. Up to 50% for 18 months with people off work looking after children (schools will all close up quickly), caring for those who are sick and on home quarantine.
Yes lets not panic, but there is no doubt now, the pandemic has just begun and managers have not got much time to get their businesses prepared.
If you are in a management position or responsible for any business with employees then you must get your plans out now. If you have no pandemic plans (like 72% of other businesses) then get hold of a manual that will tell you how to do it and give you all the documents you'll need, pre-prepared. You have not got time now to trawl the internet in search of something practical.