In the last decade, the world has had various viruses to contend with. From SARS to Zika virus, monkeypox to Ebola virus and Lassa fever to coronavirus, businesses and individuals have recorded a number of losses in productivity and profitability. During the period, developing countries in Asia, Africa and Caribbean and Latin America had the largest share of the consequences of the viruses, according to various reports.
As at the time of writing this analysis, reports say coronavirus has infected more than 40,600 people globally. In velocity, variety and volume, data are being churned out from different organisations across the world about the impact the virus is having on people, businesses and countries with the projection that global Gross Domestic Product is most likely to dip in the first quarter of the new decade.
Exhibit 1: Confirmed Case, Death and Recovered by Region
Analysing a 19-day data on the virus, we discovered that 10,759 deaths were recorded in countries and provinces or regions. There was a 99.2% connection between the confirmed cases and deaths recorded, while the confirmed cases resonated with the recovered victims by 95.2%. To the governments, healthcare professionals and families of the victims, these statistics are not encouraging in view of the speed at which the virus is spreading and killing the victims. According to them, current efforts on the containment of the virus need to be redoubled.
Looking at the data again, our analyst found that the difference between the confirmed cases and recovered people was not much. Analysis shows that confirmed cases was 220 on average, while it was 9 and 5 for recovered people and deaths respectively. As the data rollout in minutes, hours and days between January 22 and February 9, 2020, analysis reveals that people across the world sought knowledge about the virus and response efforts of the governments and health sector. Cumulative knowledge seeking threshold was 3,216. Out of this, Nigeria had 1,141 score.
Exhibit 2: Knowledge Seeking about the Virus by Region
Strategic Lessons from the Wuhan City
Away from the staggering statistics, we need to walk through how China, through Wuhan, the hotbed of the virus, is teaching the world one of the right approaches to restrain deadly diseases. Wuhan is the city where the outbreak was first documented. Having seen the gravity of the havoc, the Chinese government swung into action with the construction of two specialised hospitals in the city using prefabricated materials to make the construction process quicker.
Apart from this, there are a number of design features such as the use of negative air pressure for the purpose of ensuring ventilated airflows into isolated wards, not out of the wards. These are some of the specific features of the two-story, 366,000 square foot Huoshenshan Hospital that will provide 700 to 1,000 beds and be managed by the Chinese military. The second hospital is Leishenshan. These hospitals are expected to assist the healthcare givers in coping with the suspected and confirmed cases.
Chinese government believes that construction of the hospitals is highly imperative to the reduction and eventual elimination of the ravaging virus. In this regard, innovative processes and technologies are not being used only, the government tapped emotions of the workers in the construction sector. A report says “workers were paid up to 1,200 yuan ($173) per day, triple their usual wages. At the site, there were at least 35 diggers, 10 bulldozers, and more than 100 people working on the facility.”
Exhibit 3: China’s Hot Provinces
China has also proved to the world that it can enlist best construction companies for the building of infrastructure of national importance at this critical period. Beijing GeoEnviron Engineering & Technology (BGE), a pioneer in environmental remediation and provider of pollution control and waste treatment systems, and Oriental Yuhong Waterproof Technology, the largest waterproofing system provider in Asia, are among the companies contributing to the construction of the two hospitals.
The case of the virus has not been reported in Nigeria. However, with our understanding of the past and current approaches to the containment of global viruses by the Nigerian government, we present flash playbook, leveraging mined and analysed existing data. Our argument is that concerned stakeholders in the government need to learn the right strategies and practices from the countries that have had the highest share of the consequences of Ebola virus, monkeypox, SARS, Zika and the current one.
The Virus and Nigeria’s Preparedness
In performing its responsibility, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has issued a series of advisory statements to Nigerians on novel coronavirus between February 3 and 11, 2020. Information also has it that the Centre has supported 22 states for the establishment of emergency operations centres, in addition to the announcement of over N600m for the management of the possible outbreak nationwide by the government.
But, to Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, a Nigerian expert at the University College London and a Senior Honorary Lecturer on Infectious Diseases, “Each state is better prepared to coordinate within and across their borders in the event of an outbreak.” In its message to member states, the World Health Organisation believes that Nigeria is one of the countries in Africa prone to the contraction of the virus. Hence, the need for the prioritisation of Lagos, Kano, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Enugu, Delta and Bayelsa states.
In spite of mapping these states as the key areas for the Nigerian government at the Federal and State level, our checks show that Lagos state remains the only state showing significant interest in preparedness and response strategy. It has opened an emergency centre at Mainland Hospital in collaboration with NCDC and Lagos University Teaching Hospital to identify the virus through the Biosecurity facility situated at the hospital. The opening was not a quick one. Series of reports indicate that the state government swung into action after the officials of the Britannia Hospital in Lekki refuted claims of a suspect case of nCov in its facility.
Efficacy of the Preparedness and the Place of FM Companies
From academics to industry experts, there are concerns on the delivery of no-casualty containment through the existing infrastructure and people. Those who expressed their views along this line have cited the Ebola virus case in which a Nigerian medical doctor and other healthcare practitioners died while attending to a Liberian who contracted the virus in his country before entering Lagos Airport. Those who belong to the second school of thought on the virus have exclusively cited Nigerian government’s inability to announce restriction of people to China and other affected countries as is done by most countries in the world. Reference has been made to the fact that there are 160 Chinese firms in Nigeria with about 40,000 to 60,000 nationals living in the country. With the frequent visit to their country, public affairs analysts believe the government should have considered travel restriction as parts of its preparedness and response strategy.
While introducing this piece, we made reference to the fact that the world is seeking information about the virus. Situating this within the Nigerian context, we discovered that the extent of seeking the needed information about the virus by individuals and businesses in the key areas mapped by the WHO was low. On a surprising note, information about the virus from Sokoto, Abia, Ekiti, Bayelsa and Oyo was higher than in Lagos, Kano, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Enugu and Delta states, the states that are susceptible to the virus according to WHO.
Exhibit 4: Knowledge Seeking about the Virus by Nigerian State
A Flash Scenario
If Lagos were Hubei, a province in China and the hotbed of Coronavirus between January 22 and February 9, 2020, where 27,100 cases were confirmed 27,100, deaths 780 were recorded and 1,480 people recovered, it would be hard to contain the spread of the virus [see Exhibit 5]. As the Exhibit shows, it is evident that it was difficult for the concerned stakeholders to reduce the contracting speed of the virus in the first 5 days of the period. Before meaningful results could be recorded, it took the actors 9 days. Assuming it took Nigerian government and Lagos state government the same days, the impact would be high on people and businesses considering the infrastructure deficit and proactive strategy earlier discussed.
Exhibit 5: If Lagos were Hubei, the hotbed of the Virus between January 1 and February 9, 2020
Understanding the Flash Playbook
Now, the obvious truth is that fighting infectious disease outbreaks requires a coordinated approach with a strong continuous commitment to emergency preparedness and business continuity planning. In line with these and previous insights, we came up with a Flash Playbook for the concerned stakeholders. According to our model, containing infectious disease outbreaks is a matter of enlisting the right stakeholders from the public and private sectors. We have identified that facilities management and healthcare industries have strategic roles to play in restraining global viral diseases. The two industries are the lifeblood of every business. Every day, workers commute, work and interact within critical facilities such as water and sanitary facilities in public places. Management and maintenance of these facilities among others, are the sole responsibility of healthcare workers and facilities managers. Therefore, it is necessary to glean from the existing insights in addition to internal data and develop what we called Flash Playbook.
In the Exhibit 6, we explored the playbook further with the specific reference to the place of FM industry. At meso, micro and macro levels, there should be a coordinated preparedness and response strategy. Government is expected to lead the formulation of the strategy at the macro level, while FM companies and FM managers should ensure the development and execution of the strategy at the micro and meso levels respectively.
For instance, governments through its ministries, departments and agencies should liaise with the FM companies on the right approaches for management and maintenance of critical facilities. Facilities managers are also expected to devise specific strategies and tactics from the PRS [Preparedness and Response Strategy] developed by their companies for the real time management and maintenance of public and private sectors clients’ critical facilities using the right people, processes and appropriate technologies.
Exhibit 6: The Flash Playbook’s Framework