At this point in time, the Corona virus has spread globally, creating concerns about a pandemic. The level of preparedness varies across countries and world regions. Risk evaluations, preventive measures and crisis management produce different results, for instance where large events are concerned.

Indeed, the virus itself is not new. Over the past few decades, epidemics and near-pandemics have occurred on a regular basis. The SARS outbreak in 2003 was caused by a corona virus [1], as was MERS ten years later [2]. Transmission from animals to humans, and a large variance in the severity of cases have always been part of the story, as have continuity plans and crisis management measures. In contrast to the comparatively low mortality rates seen in corona virus epidemics, much more serious epidemics have presented a new challenge to medical research and emergency management, such as the Ebola outbreak in parts of Africa in 2014 [3].

In all these situations, organizations had to address the business impact and the consequences of a temporary loss of staff, covering both their associates´ well-being and the need to continue business under adverse conditions. Prior to 2003, little had been done about specific scenarios for business continuity planning. After SARS, many firms and institutions developed and maintained pandemic plans and integrated them with their overall business continuity programme.

In the present situation, existing plans for dealing with an epidemic should be revisited and activated where necessary. Covid-19 is very similar to, but probably less aggressive than SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2014. Transmission of the virus and the resulting consequences for continuity and crisis management are equally similar to earlier corona-type epidemics.

There are many sources of free guidance available to assist organizations in updating their crisis management and business continuity arrangements. In most cases, even a few preliminary measures will assist in significantly lowering the risk. However, the challenge will often be the shortage of resources in implementing and enacting these plans.

At FORFA Consulting, we have the requisite experience with business continuity and crisis management, including planning for and managing health scenarios during the SARS and MERS crises. For further information, please contact:




[1] MARRA, Marco A., et al. The genome sequence of the SARS-associated coronavirus. Science, 2003, 300. Jg., Nr. 5624, S. 1399-1404.

[2] DE GROOT, Raoul J., et al. Commentary: Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV): announcement of the Coronavirus Study Group. Journal of virology, 2013, 87. Jg., Nr. 14, S. 7790-7792.

[3] BRIAND, Sylvie, et al. The international Ebola emergency. New England Journal of Medicine, 2014, 371. Jg., Nr. 13, S. 1180-1183.