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Chubb risk bulletin: Business continuity planning for public health emergencies

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The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID- 19) outbreak has developed rapidly since the World Health Organisation (WHO) was first informed of a pneumonia outbreak of unknown cause in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in December 2019.

The WHO declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic on 11 March 2020 and since then the number of reported cases has grown to over 375,000 (as at 25 March 2020). Many countries have implemented drastic measures to reduce the spread of the virus, which has significantly impacted on travel and the operations of many businesses.

The need for timely and trustworthy information about COVID-19 has prompted the WHO and various national authorities to monitor, track and respond to inaccurate information with evidence-based guidance. This includes providing valuable information on reducing the risk of infections via airborne and contaminated surface transmissions.

This Risk Bulletin is intended to provide guidance to businesses on how to review and update their Business Continuity Plan (BCP) during a public health emergency such as COVID-19.


Preparedness & planning

While many organisations and national health authorities are better prepared for public health emergencies since the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, there is much to gain from a review and update of current BCP to best manage the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The purpose of a BCP is to:

  • Maintain business operations
  • Minimise supply chain interruptions
  • Minimise revenue loss
  • Maintain market share 


Reviewing your BCP

As part of the BCP review the following measures should be considered:

  • Has a manager been appointed to ensure that employees are familiar with and comply with the BCP?
  • Does the BCP address leadership and operational continuity in the absence of key staff and a reduced workforce?
  • Have infection control and hygiene best practices been shared with staff, and monitored?
  • Are stocks of personal protective equipment and medical supplies maintained? 
  • Have telecommuting arrangements, alternative worksites and changes to shift schedules been considered to minimise staff exposure to the virus on public transport and at crowded places, or staff exposing other parties during business meetings?
  • Have company policies on overseas travel, sick leave, leave of absence, home quarantine orders, absenteeism, contact tracing, repatriation and workplace closure been updated?
  • Have procedures for visitor and employee screening, and monitoring of unwell employees been established?
  • Have critical business functions and support teams been identified, and vulnerability assessments been completed?
  • Have essential suppliers and service providers been identified and consulted on their BCP?
  • Is guidance in place for the activation of alternate suppliers and delivery channels?
  • Have specific plans for service continuity to key customers been updated?
  • Has a Communications Manager been appointed to provide timely information to key business partners, and engage with them, on potential contingency measures in line with the BCP?
  • Do internal communications practices ensure that employees have regular updates and a clear understanding of the situation, their roles and responsibilities, company policies and business continuity measures, and that employees have the means to make enquiries and report on pertinent matters? 


Useful links on COVID-19

The links to follow should be reviewed regularly for updates on COVID-19. The information should also be used to update your BCP and to communicate regularly with staff, customers and suppliers.

World Health Organisation



Hong Kong







For additional information relating to Business Continuity Planning please refer to: Chubb Risk Engineering Services – BCP planning after a disaster


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Disclaimer - All contents of this article are intended for general information/guidance purposes only and not intended to be an offer or solicitation of insurance products or personal advice or a recommendation to any individual or business of any product or service. This article should not be relied on for legal advice or policy coverage and cannot be viewed as a substitute to obtaining proper legal or other professional advice, or for reading the policy documents. You should read the policy documents to determine whether any of the insurance product(s) discussed are right for you or your business, noting different limits, exclusions, terms and conditions apply in each country or territory, and not all cover is available in all countries or territories.

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