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News & Blog

Coronavirus: What businesses need to know

Posted: 3rd March 2020

Coronavirus, originating in the Chinese city of Wuhan, is a potentially lethal respiratory disease which has now spread to countries throughout the world. The virus is classified as an airborne high consequence infectious disease (HCID) and bears similarities to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), in that it can cause coughing, high temperatures and, potentially, pneumonia.

We have highlighted some useful sources of information on the Coronavirus below to help keep you informed on developments and to help protect your workforce. We advise businesses to check for updates regularly, and ensure you are getting information from reliable sources to avoid misinformation.

  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is providing guidance for British people travelling and living overseas. They are currently advising against all travel to Hubei Province, where the outbreak started, and all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China. It also advises British nationals in China to leave. More here. It is also advising against all travel to the city of Daegu and all but essential travel to the city Cheongdo, in South Korea, and against all but essential travel to 10 small towns in the Lombardy region and 1 in the Veneto region of Italy.
  • The NHS has a concise guide to Coronavirus setting out how it is spread, how to avoid catching it, symptoms, treatment and what to do if you think you or any of your employees might be infected.
  • The World Health Organisation has more detailed information including videos on best practice and posters to download to inform your workforce. There’s also a useful myth-buster section and advice on when face masks are appropriate. We recommend sharing this information with your workforce to ensure they are informed on best practice.
  • The UK Government has published a ‘Coronavirus Action Plan’ which outlines what health and social care system across the UK has done to tackle the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and what it plans to do next.
  • The Scottish Government has issued a statement following the first confirmed case of Coronavirus in Scotland (1st March)

As well as ensuring your staff are informed on the Coronavirus, it is also advisable to:

  • Complete a risk assessment which includes reviewing your supply chain and pinpointing potential shortfalls if supplies are interrupted.
  • Develop a contingency plan.
  • Consider cash flow if there’s a risk that your business model will be disrupted. It’s better to discuss these issues with your bank now and make provision if you’re going to need an extended overdraft, for example.
  • Consider encouraging home-working if you feel your workforce may be at risk.


Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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