Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which emerged in central China in late 2019, has spread to over 1000 countries, including South Africa, infecting just under 1400 people. More than 35 300 deaths have been linked to the virus. And there are concerns that the pandemic, which has also disrupted manufacturing operations and supply chains around the world — not to mention caused one of the steepest declines on record in the financial markets — could be the catalyst for a global economic slowdown. Some experts predict China’s economy could contract for the first time in nearly a decade. And, unfortunately, at the present time, there is no clear end in sight to the pain.

While the COVID-19 outbreak is both disruptive and deadly, it is not a wholly unexpected event. Following the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Corona virus epidemic in 2002-2003 and the MERS outbreak (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) in 2015, it has always been a question of when, and not if, a new, severe and more widespread viral outbreak would emerge. No business that conducts regular risk analysis and business impact analysis activities should have been surprised by COVID-19, as the potential for a large-scale health crisis should be considered in any organization’s business continuity management (BCM) and operational resilience programs.

And yet, as the COVID 19 pandemic widens, many companies are realizing they may not be prepared to manage the business disruption related to this event, including from a supply chain perspective.

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