Preparing your business for Coronavirus

As the recent Coronavirus outbreak continues, governments and businesses reveal plans on the likely economic impact

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Written and reviewed by:
Bryn Glover - Startups
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With the outbreak beginning in China and spreading across the world from there, Coronavirus (COVID-19) has quickly become a global news story, as well as the main point of discussion in almost every workplace.

By now, most countries have introduced measures designed to combat the spread of the virus among their populations. In the short-term, this includes strategies for delaying the spread of the virus, with possible longer term restrictions on movement of people and goods between countries.

Economic impact

The effect of coronavirus has been keenly felt in the business community, and is likely to have a significant impact across most industries, either directly or indirectly.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s latest Interim Economic Outlook report, the virus presents the biggest danger to the global economy since the 2008 financial crisis.

“Even in the best-case scenario of limited outbreaks in countries outside China, a sharp slowdown in world growth is expected in the first half of 2020 as supply chains and commodities are hit, tourism drops and confidence falters. Global economic growth is seen falling to 2.4% for the whole year, compared to an already weak 2.9 % in 2019. It is then expected to rise to a modest 3.3% in 2021.” –


In the short-term, this may have limited effect on daily business operations for many, but for others it’s another story. Early reports indicate some UK businesses that are entirely reliant on imports have already faced supply shortages, and this could get worse day by day.

UK Government plans

On February 3rd, Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented the UK government’s strategy for preparing for and dealing with the outbreak of Coronavirus, outlining a strategy based around four main points: contain, delay, research and mitigate.

  • Contain: detect cases as early as possible, follow up on people that they have been in contact with, and prevent the disease spreading.
  • Delay: slow the spread in the UK, and lower the impact if it becomes a bigger issue.
  • Research: increase understanding of the virus, and ways to treat it.
  • Mitigate: minimise the impact of people who become ill on the rest of the public and public services, while providing the best care possible and supporting medical staff.

The government also suggested that it would be at least 6 months before the UK might be past the risk of crisis, with a worst-case prediction suggesting that up to 80% of the population could become infected, though it is important to recognise this as an unlikely event.

NHS response and guidelines

The NHS has released information on Coronavirus, highlighting the three main symptoms to be aware of:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath

However, the National Health Service has made clear that these symptoms may not always indicate Coronavirus as they are similar to other illnesses like cold and flu.

Their guidelines on prevention are included below:

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Do not:

  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Written by:
Bryn Glover - Startups
Bryn Glover has been Editor of since 2017. Running the site's content strategy, Bryn spends a lot of time speaking to entrepreneurs and preparing for Startups' annual editorial campaigns. Having worked in journalism for just under a decade, Bryn wrote for sites like The Times, Reader's Digest, Independent and Times Higher Education before moving into the small business world.
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