With the arrival of Coronavirus in South Africa immediate action is needed to try to control the outbreak and to slow the speed of infection in the country. In the business world is vital for the continued operation of businesses that policies are put in place immediately. The SA government might think its okay to announce in the middle of the week that they’ll have a special meeting on Sunday afternoon but businesses need to move much more quickly than that.
Old Mutual were very wise to put a simple policy in place that any staff member returning from an overseas trip – either business or pleasure – should self-isolate at home (this should be for between 7 and 14 days) before returning to the workplace.
On Friday it was announced in a statement that an Old Mutual employee in the Western Cape had tested positive for Covid-19. However because they had followed the policy, they hadn’t been to work since returning from overseas so had had no contact with any other Old Mutual employees.
So business can carry on at Old Mutual thanks to the smart policy they put in place.
Now does your business have such a policy in place? If you don’t I suggest you do so today! And communicate with all staff over the weekend. Anyone returning from overseas should stay at home, and not go out to the shops or anywhere else, for 7 to 14 days. If they don’t show any symptoms then they can return to work.
This can either be time off from work, work from home, sabbatical or some other arrangement.
But if you don’t put this policy in place TODAY, and have to close your business tomorrow, think of how much you will lose!
The other very important thing to consider is the position of any domestic worker on the premises. Its no good self isolating at home if you domestic worker is there and then travels home to a township every evening. The domestic worker should definitely be given time off while the self isolating is happening.
At the moment there is no evidence of any ‘social spread’ in South Africa. People in SA are not passing Covid-19 from one to another. The only cases we know of are people who have recently returned from Europe. We can take action now to limit the spread by ensuring that anyone who returns from Europe infected does not spread this widely.
The one good think about doing business in South Africa is that we certainly have lots of experience in dealing with a crisis! Whether its load shedding, Day Zero, poisonous polony, or one a many other problems we are used to dealing with challenges. If we are smart and act quickly we will get through this one as well.