With the World Health Organization (WHO) now calling COVID-19 a global pandemic, many businesses are wondering what it means for them. The answer: Not much, from a practical standpoint. But it’s a reminder that this global health crisis is significant — and that a proactive response is essential, according to Jeffrey Alpaugh, Managing Director, U.S. & Canada Growth & Industry Practice Leader and Global Real Estate & Hospitality Practice Leader at Marsh. Marsh is an affiliate of Guy Carpenter.
As WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday, characterizing COVID-19 as a pandemic does not change the organization’s view of the threat. But the move has enormous symbolic connotations.
It makes clear to everyone worldwide that the current crisis rivals H1N1 — the last event to be designated a pandemic — and other recent large-scale infectious disease events in scope and size.
The WHO’s announcement could prompt more extensive responses from national and local governments in the United States – which has now declared a national emergency – and elsewhere. And it reflects the view by governments and the global health community that although containment of the virus may still be possible in some areas, the focus going forward must be on mitigation.