"We're hearing that there's widespread COVID infection in China. As far as India is concerned, India is extensively immunized with effective vaccines, especially the adult population. INSACOG data shows that almost all sub-variants of Omicron found everywhere in the world are found in India; there are not many sub-variants that aren't circulating here. Important to keep a close vigil on China's situation, but no need to panic as the situation is in control." Dr. N K Arora, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), Health Ministry, India
China’s health authorities declared that it is no longer possible to track the rise of COVID cases across the country. The record of asymptomatic cases is no longer being kept. The situation in China can be gauged by the fact that the crematoriums across three cities of China namely Beijing, Chongqing, and Guangzhou are experiencing a huge strain due to overcrowding. Read about the news here.
This surge of the virus across China is a clear threat to life and business continuity. It is a simple explanation - the rise of the virus is simply going to cause many more employees to call in sick affecting the productivity of organizations across China. Organizations will be forced to operate at a lower productivity level as the virus surges across China. It is important to examine why this situation in unfolding in China.
CHINA’S ZERO COVID STRATEGY
"We must take more resolute and decisive measures to curb the spread of the epidemic as soon as possible and restore normal production and living order as soon as possible. We must not relax the necessary epidemic prevention initiatives." the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top leadership said, according to Xinhua.
Ever since the start of the COVID pandemic, China has strictly followed a Zero-COVID policy.
Here are some of the measures covered in China’s policy earlier:
1. People who tested positive for COVID had to be taken to an isolation facility irrespective of the severity of the systems.
2. Many cities required a negative COVID test as often as daily to enter shopping malls or for using public transportation.
3. Sale of cold medications required name registration to weed out infections.
Loosening of restrictions
There is an argument that China relaxed its policy after massive protests against the Chinese Communist party. However, the Chinese government started to relax certain restrictions in November. Read about the news here. There is no denying of the fact that massive political protests against the Chinese state which were basically unprecedented in recent times, were a major cause for the government ending its Zero-COVID policy.
IMPACT ON BUSINESS CONTINUITY
“It’s deeply frustrating. Businesses are having to close due to staff being sick, even though they can legally be open.” Noah Fraser, Beijing-based managing director at the Canada-China Business Council, told Reuters.
Political protests are important to evaluate as they can have a negative impact on organizations. One key element to evaluate organizational robustness is definitely the PESTEL (Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Environmental and Legal) analysis.
For companies who are operating in China, a political analysis of whether China could see protests against its own government would have concluded a low possibility. However, with unexpected protests forcing the government to change its policy, it is likely that many companies did not see this situation. With the removal of restrictions due to protests, many employees across the country contacted COVID thereby calling in sick and impacting business operations.
Is your organization cognizant of various political developments which could impact it negatively?
POSSIBLE REASONS WHY THE SITUATION HAS BECOME CRITICAL
“If they are considering a pivot, they need to bolster their defenses because a storm is coming.” - Siddharth Sridhar, Virologist at the University of Hong Kong
Let us examine some possible reasons why this is happening.
New Strain or an old virus?
1. We do not have any information on whether this new wave of infections is a new vaccine- resistant virus or the old virus only.
2. If this surge of infections is due to a new vaccine-resistant strain, then it is a red alert situation for the world.
3. However, if it is already identified virus strain then the efficacy of Chinese vaccines could come into question.
Reopening too quickly
After the mass protests, China brought a change in policy which ended the Zero-COVID policy and a likely reason also could be that the country opened up too quickly. If this turns out to be the reason, then it is also a lesson for other countries and organizations that opening too quickly could be disastrous.
WHAT IS INDIA DOING WITH RESPECT TO THE EVOLVING SITUATION?
The Government of India has taken cognizance of the alarming situation developing in China by ordering genome sequencing to identify the virus strain. It is important to identify the virus strain in order to decide on further steps. Read about the news here.
It is definitely not good news coming out of China with regard to the COVID situation. However, it is also important that we do not become an alarmist and ring alarm bells prematurely. As the old saying goes prevention is better than cure, it is vital that organizations and countries across the world are ready with mitigation measures as soon as possible in case the weather gets rough.
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At Gorisco, our motto is 'Embedding Resilience' and we are committed to making the organizations and their workforce resilient. Reach out to us if you have any queries, clarifications, or need any support on your initiatives.
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