In this article, we've cut through the media noise about coronavirus COVID-19 and examined the timeline of its impact and listed action points to help employers and employees.
Our article has two aims. Firstly, to provide a chronology of how, within just a couple of months, this virus strain evolved into a worldwide pandemic. Then to understand how companies and individuals should deal with both the current outbreak and similar events in the future.
Coronavirus action points
Useful Online Resources
- Coronavirus: April 2020
- Coronavirus: March 2020
- Coronavirus: February 2020
- Coronavirus: January 2020
- Coronavirus: November/December 2019
Coronavirus action points for employers
- Remote-working/Self-isolation - consider how best to manage any quarantine if employees need to self-isolate (stay at home) for 14 days. Employers should find a way to allow staff to work remotely if possible in order to prevent further transmission.
- Environment - assist and encourage your team to keep their environment as clean as possible. Provide ample resources to enable them to regularly clean all frequently-touched areas, such as desk surfaces, door handles, kitchens, phones, keyboards, toilets and showers. Remember if providing hand sanitiser if needs an alcohol content of 60% or more to be effective.
- Cleanliness - remind colleagues to follow good hygiene practices, including sneezing into a tissue and washing their hands (20 seconds at a time) often to avoid spreading germs.
- Cyber-vigilance - warn staff to watch out for coronavirus-related phishing attacks. Cybercriminals are quick to exploit people's fear of the virus and are known to have already launched attacks impersonating the official Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation to try and steal credentials.
- Maintain HR standards - remind employees that the usual sickness absence rules apply and disciplinary action will be taken against anyone who tries to take unauthorised absence without a legitimate need.
- Follow advice - keep up-to-date with official health and travel advice by visiting the FCO website and specialist third parties (e.g. ControlRisks).
- Decide how to manage work-related travel - for example, international business travel, conferences and events with large numbers of people in attendance, etc.
- Postpone or avoid unnecessary cross-border travel - do not put yourself or others at unnecessary risk by visiting anywhere the coronavirus has been confirmed to be present. Explore other options (e.g. teleconferencing and collaborative apps such as Skype) to conduct business with such areas remotely instead.
- Beware of indirect discrimination - if you decide to impose a ban on all travel to China, how will you ensure measures are legal, proportionate, and do not indirectly discriminate against people of Chinese origin, particularly anyone making personal trips?
- Highlight harassment policies - remind staff of our zero-tolerance approach to harassment on the grounds of race and discrimination. There have been reports of an increase in harassment and discrimination, remind everyone that unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated.
Coronavirus action points for employees
- Act responsibly - if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, contact your manager to find out what arrangements have been made (ie whether you should remain at home for 14 days to self-isolate) to prevent further transmission. But remember that the usual sickness absence rules apply and disciplinary action will be taken against anyone who tries to take unauthorised absence without a legitimate need.
- Keep your environment as clean as possible - regularly clean all frequently-touched areas, such as desk surfaces, door handles, kitchens, phones, keyboards, toilets and showers, to avoid spreading infection.
- Follow good hygiene practices - such as sneezing into a tissue and washing your hands often to reduce the spread of germs. Use hand sanitiser where provided.
- Be vigilant - watch out for coronavirus-related phishing attacks. Cybercriminals are quick to exploit people's fear of the virus and are known to have already launched attacks impersonating the official Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation to try and steal credentials.
- Maintain a safe distance from others - during a health crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic, keeping at least a metre away from others will decrease your chance of getting infected.
- Be careful when handling food - make sure to cook all forms of meat and eggs thoroughly in order to prevent passing the virus on via your dinner.
- Travel wisely - get advice from your manager or HR if you have a need to travel anywhere COVID-19 has been confirmed to be present for personal reasons. Where possible, find alternatives - such as by conducting business remotely instead. Apply safe distance where possible, and try to avoid handling money.
- Report concerns - tell your manager if you have come into contact with anyone who is showing signs of the virus.
- Follow official advice - ignoring official health advice in times of crisis could put yourself and others at increased risk.
- Don't panic - by taking sensible precautions and following advice, you can help contain the outbreak.
Useful Online Resources
Information for the public on the outbreak of coronavirus in China, including the current situation in the UK and information about the virus and its symptoms.
See the latest HM Government updates
World Health Organisation
Information and guidance with daily updates from WHO regarding the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Read the WHO advice
Their Coronavirus map shows how Covid-19 is spreading across the world.
See the Guardian Interactive Map
National Travel Health Network and Centre (Department of Health)
Advice for travellers from the UK on preparing to travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Read the Travelhealthpro advice
Coronavirus COVID-19 Timeline
The death toll surpasses 180,000 as global cases rise to over 2.5 million.
- 21 Apr 20: The WHO states that all available evidence suggests that COVID-19 originated in bats and mas not manufactured artificially as Donald Trump has suggested. In the UK, several engineering, aerospace, automotive and Formula One companies form the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium and will try to produce at least 1,500 ventilators per week. Captain Tom Moore, a 100-year old UK veteran, has so far raised more than £28 million for charity by doing laps around his garden.
- 20 Apr 20: The NHS announces plans to collect blood from coronavirus patients for research. Rishi Sunak, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, announces that more than 140,000 companies have applied for he Government's wage subsidy scheme. In Israel, demonstrators protest against government restrictions while keeping more than two metres from each other.
- 18 Apr 20: For the first time in her reign, the Queen has announced that there will be no gun salutes to mark her birthday on 21 April. In the United States, the death toll exceeds 31,000.
- 16 Apr 20: The UK's Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, extends lockdown in the UK by a further three weeks. Russia postpones the country's annual World War II commemoration parade. The Austrian Government announces its intention to test all nursing home residents.
- 15 Apr 20: Denmark gradually begins reopening kindergartens, nurseries and primary schools. Finland eases lockdown restrictions on its Uusimaa region which contains the capital Helsinki. Global cases of COVID-19 now exceed 2 million.
- 12 Apr 20: Boris Johnson is cleared to return home from hospital. The UK pledges US$284 million to the WHO and other charities to help slow the virus' spread in vulnerable countries. Justice Minister Khalif Mumin Tohow is the second COVID-19 fatality in Somalia. Pope Francis holds Easter mass at the Vatican, where he prays for the souls of those killed by the coronavirus.
- 9 Apr 20: Boris Johnson is released from intensive care but remains in hospital. Brazil reports its first case among the Amazon's Yanomami tribe. Hungary's lockdown is extended indefinitely. Nicaragua releases over 1,700 prisoners in response to COVID-19.
- 8 Apr 20: The WHO advises governments not to relax any coronavirus containment measures yet. France extends its nationwide lockdown until April 15th. The EU's economic rescue package negotiations break down over what conditions should be attached to Eurozone credit for governments fighting COVID-19. The head of the European Research Council, Mauro Ferrari, resigns in protest against the EU's weak response to the pandemic. The UK's death toll now exceeds 7,000.
- 6 Apr 20: After taking a turn for the worse, Boris Johnson is admitted into intensive care "as a precaution". The Daily Mail's publishers ask staff to take a pay cut with the difference made up in shares due to loss of advertising revenue. The WHO warns that public demand for face masks may create a shortage for hospitals.
- 5 Apr 20: Boris Johnson is admitted to hospital as his condition worsens. Queen Elizabeth II addresses the UK, calling for unity and global cooperation. Scotland's Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, resigns after being caught breaking her department's own self-isolation advice twice.
- 3 Apr 20: First cases reported in the Falkland Islands, while first deaths are confirmed in Kyrgyzstan and Latvia. The Trump administration recommends that US citizens wear "non-medical cloth" face coverings. Four million medical masks are delivered to Europe from China. London's ExCel centre opens as a temporary 4,000-bed hospital.
- 2 Apr 20: Global cases of COVID-19 surpass the 1 million mark. Unemployment levels in the US are at an all time high with 6.6 million people applying for unemployment benefits, the greatest number in the country's entire history. Malawi confirms its first three cases.
- 1 Apr 20: Wimbledon, the Europa League and the Champions League are cancelled for this year due to the ongoing crisis. Russia declares a state of emergency, and sends a large amount of medical supplies to the US as a gesture of goodwill.
The death toll surpasses 40,000 as global cases rise to over 800,000.
- 31 Mar 20: Worldwide cases exceed 800,000, as the death toll rises to more than 40,000. The US death toll has now exceeded China's with over 3,600 coronavirus-related deaths.
- 30 Mar 20: Confirmed cases in New York state exceed 1,000. Donald Trump extends federal guidelines on social distancing until April 30. France announces it will pay for hotel rooms for domestic violence victims and open new counselling centres, after reports showed that lockdown was drastically increasing the number of cases reported.
- 29 Mar 20: With more than 129,000 cases of COVID-19, the US now has the highest amount of infected persons in the world. The US death tolls has also risen to over 2,000. Northern Mariana Islands confirm their first two cases, as Singapore reports its third death.
- 28 Mar 20: Worldwide cases surpass 600,000, while total deaths amount to more than 27,000. The total number of people infected with COVID-19 in the USA surpasses 100,000 with deaths exceeding 1,700. The death tolls in Italy and Spain exceed 10,000 and 5,600 respectively.
- 27 Mar 20: Boris Johnson is the next UK public figure to confirm being infected. South Africa enforces as 3-week lockdown as its first two deaths are recorded.
- 26 Mar 20: The total number of UK cases surpasses 10,000, while Spain reports that the number of deaths in the country have surpassed 4,000. Anguilla reports its first two cases.
- 24 Mar 20: Prince Charles is confirmed to be infected with COVID-19. The Olympic Games are postponed to 2021 due to the ongoing crisis. Laos, Libya, and Easter Island report their first cases.
- 23 Mar 20: António Guterres, the UN's Secretary-General, calls for an immediate global ceasefire in order for the world to fully cooperate and take on "a common enemy." Burma, Belize, and Turks and Caicos Islands confirm their first cases.
- 22 Mar 20: The USA suffers a massive spike in new cases, with almost 10,000 cases being reported in a single day. ITV suspends the filming of several shows including 'Coronation Street', 'Loose Women' and 'Emmerdale' due to the ongoing crisis. India is placed under a 14-hour curfew to try and fight the virus while assessing the country's ability to tackle it.
- 21 Mar 20: First deaths a reported in Israel and Singapore, while Papua New Guinea confirms is first case. The White House reports that a member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff tested positive for COVID-19. YouTube and Netflix decrease video quality in the EU to tackle Internet gridlock due to mass self-isolation and homeworking.
- 20 Mar 20: Death toll surpasses 10,000 as Italy's death toll overtakes China's. Boris Johnson announces the imminent closure of all cafes, pubs and bars among other measures.
- 19 Mar 20: For the first time since the start of the outbreak, China reports zero new local infections. Chad and Mauritius report their first COVID-19 cases, while the first deaths are reported in Mexico, Croatia, and Russia. The World Bank increases its response package to $14bn, and the UK's MHRA commits to support and prioritise coronavirus clinical trial applications.
- 18 Mar 20: Death toll surpasses the 8,000 mark. The Eurovision Song Contest, scheduled to be held in Rotterdam, is cancelled due to COVID-19 transmission fears. Australia and New Zealand announce the cancellation of Anzac Day, which was to be held in Turkey's Gallipoli on April 25.
- 16 Mar 20: Justin Trudeau restricts entry into Canada, allowing only Canadian and US citizens to enter, as well as air crew, diplomats, permanent residents, and closest family of citizens. Both Malaysia and Guatemala close their borders temporarily.
- 15 Mar 20: Death toll surpasses the 6,000 mark. Narendra Modi, India's PM, proposes a SAARC fund to tackle the pandemic, with India committing USD 10 million for it. South Africa declares a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act. Brunei forbids all citizens and foreign residents from leaving in response to the spread of COVID-19.
- 13 Mar 20: The opening round of the Formula 1 World Championship is cancelled and the Premier League is suspended due to health concerns. Apple announces that their annual Worldwide Developers Conference will be held online and close all Apple Stores outside of Greater China until March 27. The USA declares a national state of emergency.
- 12 Mar 20: Global stock markets experience the worst single-day fall since the infamous 1987 crash. Justin Trudeau begins a 14-day self-quarantine after his wife tests positive for COVID-19. The Olympic Games begin the flame lighting ceremony - it is held without spectators for the first time since 1984.
- 11 Mar 20: The WHO declares the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, noting that infections outside of China have increased 13-fold over the last two weeks. Canada announces a CA$1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund of which $275 million will go towards Canadian coronavirus research and $50 million to the WHO. President Trump bans travel from Europe (except the UK) to the USA.
- 9 Mar 20: Six inmates die during a prison riot in Italy, sparked by the rising unrest due to coronavirus fears. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Italy's PM imposes a country-wide lockdown in an attempt to halt the virus' spread. New cases are reported in Brunei, Panama, Mongolia, Cyprus, and Burkina Faso. Wuhan closes 11 out of its 14 makeshift hospitals as the number of new infections continues to decline.
- 7 Mar 20: UK confirms second death in the country at Milton Keynes University Hospital, while Paraguay, Malta and the Maldives report their first cases. Tragically, a hotel being used to quarantine COVID-19 patients in China's Quanzhou collapsed, killing more than twenty people.
- 6 Mar 20: First cases in Serbia, Bhutan, Slovakia, Cameroon, Peru and the Vatican City. Total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Iran rise to 4,747 and 124 respectively. The total number of cases worldwide now exceeds 100,000.
- 5 Mar 20: HSBC evacuates an entire floor of its offices in London's Canary Wharf after a member of staff was confirmed to have caught COVID-19. To prevent the virus spreading further throughout Europe, the Rome marathon was cancelled while the Paris marathon was postponed to October 2020.
- 4 Mar 20: Italy closes all schools and universities until 15th March to try and contain the virus, while Russia bans the export of hazmat suits, respirators and masks to ensure that Russian medics don't experience any shortages. Meanwhile in the UK, the government announces that workers who self-isolate will receive full sick pay, while UK-based regional airline Flybe goes into administration partly blaming the coronavirus for its financial woes.
- 3 Mar 20: First death in Spain. First cases reported in Argentina, Chile, Ukraine and Senegal. Meanwhile, the US's CDC lifts all former restrictions on COVID-19 testing, and the UK government unveils its 'worst case scenario action plan', which would include the army patrolling the streets and police ignoring petty crime due to staff shortages. While the UK government claimed that it is highly unlikely that such a situation ever arises, the media was quick to suggest quite the opposite!
- 2 Mar 20: First cases in Andorra, Iceland, Indonesia, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Portugal and Saudi Arabia. EU raises the risk level to high. The death toll in the USA rises to nine.
- 1 Mar 20: Scotland records its first case, as do Armenia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic and Ireland. Australia and Thailand record there first deaths. It is revealed that 23 members of Iran's parliament have tested positive for COVID-19.
The first death occurs outside of China. Diagnosed cases rise to over 70,000 and the death toll approaches 2,000.
- 26 Feb 20: The number of new cases reported outside China exceeded the number of new cases in China for the first time.
- 24 Feb 20: Experts claim that the world may be reaching a coronavirus tipping point if the situation is not contained soon. 50 people reported dead in Iran's Qom, a sacred Shia city, which raises fears that Covid-19 may have been spread by pilgrims before its existence was realised.
- 23 Feb 20: Italy imposes a lockdown in two northern "hotspot" regions near Venice and Milan, after revealing that there are 152 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and three related deaths. The Carnival in Venice was subsequently shut down two days earlier than scheduled as Italian authorities fail to identify 'patient zero', the first carrier of the virus in the country.
- 19 Feb 20: Death toll surpasses 2,000 victims, with the total number of infected patients exceeding 75,000. However, total new recoveries are now exceeding new infections.
- 18 Feb 20: Although the death toll continues to rise above 1,800 and the number of infected cases is 73,000, the new infection rate continues to drop.
- 18 Feb 20: Diamond Princess, a cruise liner moored in Yokohama, Japan is quarantined from 6th February 2020, due to ten confirmed cases on board. The ship becomes a breeding ground and within the two week over 540 out of the 3,70 passengers and crew have contracted coronavirus.
- 15 Feb 20: With nine confirmed cases in the UK, the Government steps up its emergency planning. Anyone with possible symptoms to self-quarantine themselves for at least two weeks.
- 14 Feb 20: Details emerge of one UK coronavirus patient attending a conference with over 250 people, while another confirmed patient takes an Uber to get to hospital!
- 10 Feb 20: The Covid-19 outbreak has surpassed the SARS outbreak of 2003 (also originating in China). Whereas SARS led to 8,273 cases and 775 deaths, Covid-19 has chalked up 40,553 cases and a death toll of 910 and rising.
- 7 Feb 20: Whistleblower, Dr Li Wenliang dies from coronavirus. First details emerge of a super spreader, who managed to carry the coronavirus from a conference in Singapore to a ski chalet in the French Alps before finally bringing it to his home city of Brighton. An average patient spreads it to 2.5 people, while super spreaders pass it on to many times that number.
- 3 Feb 20: China reports that the number of new infections outside the Hubei province has peaked and is now starting to drop - although thousands will still contract the virus before it's brought under control.
- 2 Feb 20: First coronavirus death outside of China reported in the Philippines, and subsequent deaths in North America (US) and Europe on the 8th and 14th of February respectively.
The outbreak takes hold, then escalates within three weeks as tens of thousands are diagnosed and travel restrictions begin.
- 31 Jan 20: The US severely restricts entry of foreign nationals who've recently visited China, while three major US airlines announce that they are stopping all flights to and from China for at least two months.
- 30 Jan 20: The WHO declares a global health emergency as with tens of thousands of confirmed cases in China alone the situation is not expected to improve any time soon.
- 23 Jan 20: To prevent further spread of the coronavirus the Chinese government effectively quarantines Wuhan by suspending all forms of transport in or out of the city.
- 21 Jan 20: The WHO publishes its first COVID-19 situation report, which confirms that the virus has begun to spread internationally, with cases being confirmed in Thailand, Japan and South Korea. However, it holds back from declaring an international health emergency.
- 18 Jan 20: Despite worldwide concern, the authorities in China are in denial and appear surprised at the news. The city of Wuhan even goes ahead with its annual banquet with some 40,000 families attending and making and sharing food.
- 10 Jan 20: Scientists sequence the coronavirus and show that it's from the same family as the SARS virus that caused a pandemic in 2003.
- 5 Jan 20: The WHO advises against applying any restrictions of travel or trade with China based on the information available at the time.
- 2 Jan 20: Hospitals in Wuhan have admitted 41 cases of COVID-19. Authorities confirm that they are treating dozens of cases of pneumonia, brought about by an unknown cause. The Chinese authorities close the food market alleged to be at the origin of the outbreak.
A hitherto unknown coronavirus makes the jump from animals to humans, possibly in a food market in Wuhan, in the Hubei province of China.
- 30 Dec 19: Dr Li Wenliang turns whistleblower and sends out a warning to fellow medics, but police told him to stop "making false comments".
- 8 Dec 19: First patient diagnosed with the symptoms of coronavirus, although the virus itself was not identified until much later.
Want to know more about Risk Management?
We have written a blog devoted to the topic of Managing Risk in a Health Crisis, which also addresses similar issues, and is accompanied by a free staff awareness poster.
As well as 50+ free compliance training aids, we regularly publish informative Risk Management blogs. And, if you're looking for a compliance training solution, why not visit our Risk Management course library.
If you've any further questions or concerns about Risk Management, just leave us a comment below this blog. We are happy to help!