We are in the middle of a major crisis with Coronavirus, if you are to believe the media. But we’ve been there before with SARS (linked to the current virus), Bird Flu, BSE and the non-medical Millennial bug. All of which disappeared into history.
These were all crises that were handled well and, contrary to many reports, I believe that the current one is being managed carefully and well, with the Chinese authorities being open and transparent.
There will always be accusations that the Chinese authorities did not act fast enough. But how fast is fast? That is always a good question.
As is usual in a crisis, there are a number of common factors:
- Facts are scarce. The facts are not fully ascertained; for example, the level of infectiousness is still not known;
- More research. More research is always needed and this all takes time;
- Murphy’s Law rules. Coronavirus happened at the height of the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday season where millions of people are on the move and Wuhan, the centre of virus, is a key a transit hub. The worst possible place and time.
The international reaction has been swift: BA cancelled flights to China and the UK government says non-essential travel should not be undertaken. Citizens of various countries continue to be evacuated.
This despite the World Health Organization asking for calm. It has refused to raise coronavirus to the level of a global emergency. Developed countries with good medical systems and immigration controls will never be hit as severely as poorer nations.
WHO praised China for its handling of the outbreak, and recommended against restricting international trade with, and travel to, the country. “This declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma.”
I had to really dig on the Internet to find this simple quote and I looked in vain for it on mediat websites.
A key rule of crisis management is simple: Good news is not news.