Managing the COVID-19 pandemic with the 5Rs

Written by Claude Hamman, Head: Specialist Risk Advisory at Indwe

A pandemic was identified by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as the 4th (2007) and 5th (2008) most impactful risk facing the world. That was 12 years ago. The impact of this forgotten forecast is that we are now living through it. Clearly we need to look at the way we consider risks both past and present. 

Risks don’t disappear when others take their place, instead they sit, waiting to be unleashed on the world. According to the WEF Global Risks Report for 2020, “Considerable progress has been made since the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014–2016, but health systems worldwide are still under-prepared for significant outbreaks of other emerging infectious diseases.” The report also stated that healthcare systems “across 195 countries found fundamental weaknesses around the world: no country is fully prepared to handle an epidemic or pandemic.” 

Even Bill Gates, in his 2015 TED Talk, spoke of a virus being more impactful than even World War III. He highlighted the fact that we are unprepared on several fronts. With all this information on hand it’s hard to say that we did not know what was coming, we seemingly just decided to ignore it. 

A new reality

We are now forced to deal with a new reality, which will have a lasting impact on our economy and the society in which we live. With the current situation also changing so rapidly, there may even be other events that impact this crisis. 

Climate change and extreme weather was rated the highest for likelihood and impact on the world. An extreme weather event would exacerbate the spread of the virus and when coupled with a major pandemic, could decimate countries and communities globally.

In a post-crisis world 

A recent McKinsey article provides some food for thought on a post-crisis world and the five stages that represent the imperative of our time: resolve, resilience, return, reimagination and reform. This is my perspective. 

Never waste a good crisis. For a minimum of 21 days (maybe longer) we will have to think differently in order to resolve our current challenges and prepare ourselves for the grinding halt of both the local and global economies. This is unprecedented in my life time. And one day our grandchildren will ask what we did during the virus outbreak, because this will have a profound impact for generations to come. 

Imagine a scenario like the Great Depression; it is up to us to build resilience in order to survive. What does survive mean? It means creating a sustainable future for ourselves and our families, and it means buckling down during uncertain times. This crisis is causing major changes in how we live and work. It will also lead to even more changes, as we transform our view of working from home and preparing for business interruption events. 

Some of your clients may not exist by the end of April and others will likely be going through tough times this year. Our responsibility is to prepare for a post-lockdown and post-crisis return, in order to help our fellow South Africans, our communities and our Indwe colleagues to stand up and identify opportunities to rebuild together.

This crisis will require us to reimagine our business, the way we go about doing business and how we engage with people in our country and globally. We are in a unique position to continue to offer support and assistance using technology to our advantage. The world economy will ultimately start turning again, albeit slowly, and it is up to us to determine how relevant we will be in the new world as it is reformed

Advice and support

Although we are experiencing lockdown and isolation with our families, we view this as time to incubate our ideas and use technology to continue providing advice and support to our clients. Indwe has a cloud-based technology platform called Lymelyte, which is ideally suited to delivering and connecting the world of risk. 

We also have RiskTech® products which provide an overview of how risk management technology can support your business. The use of UAVs (drones) is particularly useful as a RiskTech® solution. Consider the use of UAVs for small and large organisations during and after crisis events, especially if human beings are unable to access specific locations. The application of drone technology during crisis situations is intriguing, as drones can be modified to deliver food or medicine, monitor safety and security, or disperse vaccines across large areas (with consideration of the ethical implications and modifications to existing technology and laws). 

Final thoughts from me during this lockdown period:

  • We are available to clients via cellphone, Skype and Google Hangouts.
  • Reach out to us – we want to know about your challenges and fears.
  • Work differently by using technology to create new opportunities.
  • Share your ideas and ask us about risks and insurance solutions.
  • Consider finding something to do during non-working times, like family activities and small projects that will keep you sane.

Most of all, stay safe!