Patterns of Covid19 and related response measures


The current global situation on Covid19 is of over 78,000 confirmed cases, with 2,626 casualties and 25,160 full recoveries. The situation in Italy has been escalating very rapidly, this short report compares the evolution of the Italian situation with that of other affected regions on a similar scale. China is excluded given that the spread of the virus is significantly larger and therefore the comparison might not be valid.

The main observations so far are the following:

  • The virus seems to take between 20-30 days from the first confirmed case to increase significantly. Italy does not differ in this sense, from the other countries shown in this report. This does not mean the virus then stabilizes, as the cases may very well continue to increase.
  • In all cases described in this report the virus has led to either quarantined areas or the shut-down of public gatherings.
  • Other European countries have not banned all flights from China. Differently, they are only carrying out checks on those coming from the affected areas. However, individuals without symptoms could still be infectious, which makes the effectiveness of these measures hard to prove.
  • Whilst the WHO has advocated against a flight ban from China (Italy is the only country to have done so), some prominent italian medical experts have advocated in favour of a flight ban. The fact that the virus is spreading in Europe through those that have come back from affected areas seems to favor the idea of a ban.
  • As the South Korean case shows, a single gathering with infected individuals can lead to a significant spike in infections even after restrictive measures have been implemented.

Advice for businesses:

  • Look at the rate of infection in countries that are the most significant to the business, to understand whether there might be supply chain disruptions. Lockdowns and states of emergency might be impactful in this regard.
  • Promote remote work when possible and limit trips both locally and internationally, unless vital for the business.
  • Screen the workforce to see whether there are any employees who either come from the affected areas or have had contacts with individuals that might be infected.
  • Scan the horizon for possible restrictions imposed by local and national authorities, checking whether people, goods and services are somehow hindered by the emergency.
  • Establish a crisis management plan with clear roles and responsibilities. There needs to be a clear chain of command and communication throughout the organization. This type of arrangements should already be built in if you have a well-executed business continuity management system.

Advice regarding suppliers, contractors and service providers:

  • The Covid19 emergency can affect both the supply and demand of supply chains. This means that organizations need to examine their capacity to provide goods and services to their clients while also making sure their own suppliers are still operational.
  • Companies should pay attention to the so called “bull-wip effect”. This means that a decrease by a certain percentage downstream in the supply chain (closer to the client) might lead to a larger slow-down in production upstream, where smaller business usually operate. This can endanger the very existence of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the supply chain.
  • It is key to identify the critical suppliers (if this hasn’t been done yet as part of the BCMS) and build mitigation measures.
  • Multi-layered supply chains can favor a swift reaction, as the availability of different suppliers can help reconfigure the supply process and avoid disruptions. In this regard, it is useful to ensure communication and collaboration among suppliers and geographically diversify the supply network. This latter point in particular is very relevant in the case of a pandemic where some regions are more affected than others.

Infection by country

The following graphs are built using the news and updates provided by the World Health Organization. Italy, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong were chosen as they are among the most infected countries outside China and therefore the goal was to both identify patterns and provide the information to the public.

Figure 1. Italy.

Figure 2. Hong Kong.

Figure 3. South Korea.

Figure 4. Japan.