Leaders Need to Halt the Panic: I’m on Team Australia!

Article by HVIA Chief Executive Todd Hacking

The hotel lift dings, and the doors open there’s three people at either end of the confined space. My sister and I enter – we’re having a brief holiday in Honolulu. Pleasantries are exchanged.

By level 3, a bather clad family and two other couples have entered – the lift is full, snug in fact.

13 of us in total about to set off to enjoy our holidays when the lady at the back feels an icebreaker is needed.

“Nobody sneeze now…!” she says in a heavy American accent. It was meant as a light-hearted way to lift our spirits but the reaction was surprisingly frosty, deadpan, tense even.

It is clear the very serious occupants of that lift didn’t appreciate the attempt of humour. The lady apologises “I guess that was a bit insensitive…”.

The following morning a story of panic buying of toilet paper in Australia breaks. I laugh in disbelief. I just don’t believe what I’m seeing.

I dismiss it as some local worrywart watching too much Doomsday Preppers on Netflix.

But I’m now back in Australia and currently down to one spare roll at home and have made 3 separate trips to 2 local stores to find whole shelves empty. This is no longer a joke!

In addition, the $AUD has been smashed and the international markets are in free-fall. A week later were talking almost 20% wiped off international markets and locally the ASX has reacted accordingly.

It is almost certain the March quarter will be in negative growth and well-known economists are starting to predict the same for June, which would see the R word invoked.

This is no longer a laughing matter. My flippancy is over. It is time for a very serious reality check.

As I write this the Prime Minister has given a major speech invoking a Team Australia spirit to ensure we negotiate the global impact of the virus. A Stimulus Package is expected sometime this week and it can’t come quickly enough.

I’m not telling you anything new. Some of you have had supplies held up by China, most of you rely on a strong $AUD and many of you will be taking precautions in your workplaces.

I want to encourage you to continue to prepare and I’ll provide some links and tips at the end of this article but I also want to provide some facts about the Coronavirus of COVID-19 to try and halt the panic.

We need to get this message out to our friends, colleagues and encourage them to do the same.

  • Each year in Australia, the common flu (influenza) sadly kills 3500 people. The current Coronavirus tally in Australia is 3. To put this further in perspective you are 20 times more likely to die from falling out of bed then you are from Coronavirus.
  • Worldwide statistics are that anyone under 60 has less then 1% chance of fatality if you contract coronavirus. The most at risk are the elderly (over 80 years of age) and someone with a prior respiratory medical condition should seek early medical intervention.
  • The best way to protect yourself and your work colleagues is to wash your hands more frequently then normal. To cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • If you are unwell, stay home. If you have travelled to China, Iran, Korea and now Italy let the authorities know and if you do feel unwell seek urgent medical advice.

This is an evolving situation and we need to stay calm, listen to the advice and stay vigilant but I’m on Team Australia and I hope you will join me.

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