NEW COVID-19: Our team has launched a free Temperature Check-In tool to help businesses keep safe. Learn more

A Guide to Business Continuity Planning during COVID-19

Foreword: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.Foreword: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Foreword: Business Continuity Planning (BCP) consists of having processes in place to deal with situations like the COVID-19 outbreak. These processes help organisations keep their workplace safe and healthy. We created this actionable and digestible guide to assist you in setting up these processes inside your organisation. The content of this guide is adapted from the “Guide on Business Continuity Planning for COVID-19 – 2nd Edition” by Enterprise Singapore. We have also included how Wylcome can help you streamline some of the processes while providing a seamless experience at an affordable price.

Understanding Business Continuity Planning

Introduction to Business Continuity Planning (BCP)
What is COVID-19?

The COVID-19 belongs to a family of viruses known as the Corona viruses, which can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The COVID-19 infections started in China but confirmed infections have also been reported in Singapore and other parts of the world.

Business Continuity Planning During COVID-19

Enterprises are encouraged to plan and implement business continuity plans to minimise disruption to their operations and ensure that business remains viable during the virus outbreak. Enterprises can take the following steps to ensure adequate preparation for business continuity.

Human resource management
  1. A Business Continuity Manager should be appointed to ensure that employees are familiar with the business continuity plans and comply with them during this period.
  2. Develop a plan for the continuity of leadership in the event of absence of key decision makers and executives
  3. Consider flexible work arrangements for the high-risk employees, as well as employees who need to stay at home due to other reasons relating to the COVID-19, e.g. to take care of family members who have travelled to known affected countries or regions
  4. Review employee management policies such as leave of absence, absenteeism, sick leave, overseas travel, workplace closure and recall of non-critical employees and their families from affected countries
  5. Adhere to all travel and health advisories issued by MOH, MOM and other government agencies. For example, Singaporeans are to defer all travel to Hubei Province and all non-essential travel to Mainland China 2 . Refer to MOH and MOM websites (www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19 & www.mom.gov.sg/covid-19) for the latest updates so that an informed decision can be made on whether to proceed with business travel plans  If business travel to known affected countries or areas is unavoidable and alternative options such as teleconferencing and video-conferencing are not possible, employers should arrange for their employees to consult a doctor for travel health advice prior to travel For employees whose work is performed in known affected countries or areas, employers should ensure that employees are adequately protected or monitored in accordance to MOH guidelines
  6. Obtain a health and travel declaration from employees who have travelled to China recently, or who have any upcoming plans to travel to China3 during the virus outbreak
  7. Comply with all quarantine orders issued by MOH, MOM and other government agencies. These include all measures prescribed by MOH, MOM and other government agencies during the quarantine period. For example, all returning employees with Hubei travel history within 14 days prior to arrival in Singapore will be quarantined based on MOH advisory on 28 January 2020. Employees placed under quarantine must not leave their designated location for any reason. Refer to MOH, MOM and other government agencies’ websites for more details
  8. Adhere to all leave of absence advisories issued by MOH, MOM and other government agencies. For example, employees who had been in China (excluding those with Hubei travel history) in the past 14 days will be placed on a 14-day Leave of Absence (LOA) from the day of their return to Singapore based on the MOH advisory issued on 1 February 2020. Refer to MOH and MOM website for more details  During the 14-day LOA, employers must ensure that employees stay away from the workplace but employers may adopt flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting and teleconferencing, to allow employees to work from home. Please see special arrangements for employees in education, healthcare and eldercare sectors in the relevant advisories by MOH and other government agencies If telecommuting or remote working is not possible, employers may refer to MOM’s advisory at www.mom.gov.sg/covid-19to better support employees’ needs
  9. Include provision of accommodation in Singapore for foreign workers during the virus outbreak. Refer to MOM and other government agencies’ websites for more details
  10. Check the MOH, MOM and other government agencies’ websites (e.g. www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19and www.mom.gov.sg/covid-19) for the latest advisories and requirements on travel, health, quarantine and LOA and accommodation of foreign workers, as the situation evolves
  11. Implement public health response measures, e.g. contact tracing and social distancing, as advised by the MOH l. Review health insurance policies for workers
Process and business functions
  1. Identify critical business functions (prioritised activities) and essential employees. Enterprises should consider the following:  Set up alternate teams of employees (e.g. Team A & Team B) who can be deployed at different work schedules (e.g. Team A working in the office at alternate weeks, while Team B telecommutes). The teams should be physically segregated to avoid the risk of infection between teams  Cross-train employees and establish covering arrangements to minimise disruptions 
  2. Educate employees on infection control and good personal hygiene 
  3. Develop plans related to visitor and employee screening and follow-up actions 
  4. Develop a robust employee sickness surveillance process to identify and manage unwell employees 
  5. Ensure adequate supply of appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and medical equipment (e.g. thermometers, disposable gloves, surgical masks, N-95 masks and disinfectants) and undertake training to familiarise employees on their usage 
  6. Clean and disinfect companies’ premises exposed to suspected or confirmed case(s) of the COVID-19. Owners or operators can refer to the interim guidelines for environmental cleaning and disinfection released by NEA
Supplier and customer management
  1. Identify essential suppliers and service providers, and discuss and prepare business continuity measures. These include understanding the BCP of the suppliers and service providers
  2. Identify essential customers and ensure that plans are in place to meet customer needs
  3. Develop a plan on how and when to activate: Alternative suppliers Alternative delivery means to customers
Communications
  1. Begin by identifying a communications coordinator who will disseminate your communications plan in line with your business needs and business continuity plans
  2. Ensure that employees have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities before the virus outbreak occurs. For example, employees should be informed of the BCP measures that will impact them and be kept updated on the policies and progress on the measures to be implemented by the company in the event of a virus outbreak. Consider setting up a communication channel for employees to report their status and to make enquiries
  3. Identify the relevant stakeholders such as suppliers, service providers and customers, and key messages for each stakeholder group; and begin a dialogue with them on potential contingency measures during a virus outbreak

The symptoms of the COVID-19 are similar to that of regular pneumonia. Typical symptoms include fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath.

DORSCON

MOH has developed a colour-coded ‘Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) framework that shows the nature of disease, impact on daily life and advice to public at different alert levels.. The current DORSCON alert level is found at www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19

The DORSCON alert levels should be used as a guide as to when enterprises will activate their business continuity measures and adopt infection control measures at their workplaces. As there may be a gradation of responses with each DORSCON phase and response measures may change during a virus outbreak, enterprises should build in buffer capacity and flexibility, where possible, in their existing BCP, so that measures can be ramped up or down, in-line with the advisories issued by MOH and other government agencies.

As the virus outbreak subsides, enterprises should also develop procedures to restore and return to business as usual

Health advisories

Enterprises should refer to the latest health advisories issued by MOH, MOM and other government agencies as the situation evolves. Enterprises should implement appropriate measures in accordance with the latest advisories published by MOH, MOM and other government agencies

Appointing a Business Continuity Manager

The roles of a Business Continuity Manager
  1. Actively monitor development of the virus outbreak and work with management to disseminate messages to employees with clear instructions when measures need to be activated
  2. Educate employees on the latest available information on the virus. Brief them on the need for infection control measures and the preventive procedures that have been set in place. Educate employees on the different types of thermometers, such as oral and ear thermometer, and the proper way of using them
  3. Collate updated contact information of all employees, i.e. home address/home telephone number/ mobile phone number. Make sure all employees have contact numbers of Business Continuity Manager/Assistant Business Continuity Manager*. Employees are to contact the Business Continuity Manager if they are admitted to hospital with suspected infections for contact tracing purposes
  4. Ensure that the company has appointed at least one designated Point of Contact (POC) (may be the Business Continuity Manager), who will be responsible for liaising with MOH during activation of contact tracing processes at the workplace
  5. Check the following websites (www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19) daily for updated advisories (e.g. travel advisories) and update employees accordingly
  6. Ensure that employees who have travelled to affected areas are quarantined for a sufficient number of days, as advised by the MOH. Check on employees’ health by phone or email during his/her absence from work
  7. Appoint employee to keep quarantined employees informed of events in office
  8. Ensure that the workplace has adequate supplies of tissue paper/hand towels, disinfectants and masks
  9. Brief employees on personal hygiene measures
  10. Put up notices in washrooms on proper hand washing techniques
  11. Ensure common areas e.g. pantries, washrooms, meeting rooms are disinfected daily. Liaise with cleaning employees/contractors on this
  12. Designate a room/area in the office with nearby toilet facilities as the isolation room/area for the employee(s) with fever to use. Identify the isolation route (a route that is not commonly used by employees/visitors) that leads to an area where the employees with fever can be brought to the clinic/hospital
  13. Identify hospital/clinics that employees with fever can be brought to
  14. Where advised by MOH, carry out symptom or temperature monitoring of employees. If temperature monitoring is instituted, ensure employees measure their temperature twice daily (see: Temperature Monitoring Log).

*Note: Depending on the employee strength of your company and the size of your company’s premises, an assistant Business Continuity Manager should be appointed as a backup to cover the duties of the Business Continuity Manager. If applicable, a Response Team should be set up to support the execution of incident response measures

Providing best practices to your employees

Good personal hygiene
  1. Adopt the following precautions at all times:
    1. Avoid contact with live animals including poultry and birds, and consumption of raw and undercooked meats
    2. Avoid crowded places and close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness
    3. Observe good personal hygiene
    4. Practise frequent hand washing with soap (e.g. before handling food or eating, after going to the toilet, or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing)
    5. Wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms such as a cough or runny nose
    6. Cover your mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing, and dispose the soiled tissue paper in the rubbish bin immediately; and
    7. Seek medical attention promptly if you are feeling unwell
    8. Wash hands
      1. Regularly and thoroughly with soap and water
      2. Before and after preparing food
      3. After going to the toilet
      4. Before and after eating
      5. After coughing and sneezing
      6. After removing personal protective equipment like mask and disposable gloves
      7. Maintain good indoor ventilation
      8. Avoid sharing food, cutlery, crockery, utensils and other personal hygiene items
      9. Avoid physical contact such as shaking hands and avoid touching your face or rubbing your eyes
    9. Maintain good personal hygiene, including hand washing with soap and water, or the use of alcohol-based hand rubs
    10. Proper hand washing requires soap and water. The constant rubbing action helps soap break down the grease and dirt that carry most germs. Washing your hands for at least 15 to 30 seconds with soap and water does not just make your hands smell fresh but also reduces germ count by up to 99%
    11. Follow these 8 simple steps to keep your hands clean:
      Steps to keep your hands clean
How to wear a surgical mask
How to wear a surgical mask
when you dont have to wear a surgical mask
Note: To be effective, change your mask regularly or if soiled or wet Wash your hands with soap and water after disposing the soiled mask properly into a bin
Tips on Temperature Taking

When to take your temperature:

  1. Wait for 20 to 30 minutes after smoking, eating, or drinking a hot or cold liquid
  2. Wait at least 1 hour after heavy exercise or a hot bath before measuring body Temperature

How to take your temperature:

  1. There are different ways of temperature taking for the different types of thermometers Available

Glass thermometer

  1. Wash the thermometer bulb with soap and water before use
  2. Shake the thermometer a few times to bring the level of liquid in the thermometer below 35ºC
  3. Temperatures can be taken from the armpit or mouth

Armpit reading

  1. Place the thermometer bulb under your armpit. Press arm against body to hold the thermometer in place. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature after 5 Minutes

Oral reading

  1. Place the thermometer bulb under your tongue. Close your mouth and do not talk or bite the thermometer. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature after 3 minutes
  2. Wash the bulb of the thermometer with soap and water after use

Note: Do not use a mercury thermometer for children under six in case of breakage leading to mercury poisoning.

Digital thermometer

  1. Wash the area of the thermometer bulb with soap and water before use
  2. Switch on the thermometer and wait until it is ready to register a reading
  3. Temperatures can be taken from the armpit or mouth

Armpit reading

  1. Place the thermometer bulb under your armpit. Press arm against body to hold the  thermometer in place. The thermometer will beep to signal that the temperature display is ready for reading. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature

Oral reading

  1. Place the thermometer bulb under your tongue. Close your mouth and do not talk or bite the thermometer. The thermometer will beep to signal that the temperature display is ready for reading. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature
  2. Wash the area of the thermometer bulb with soap and water after use

Ear (tympanic) thermometer

  1. To keep the probe clean, use a disposable probe cover. Use a new cover each time you take an ear temperature
  2. Switch on the thermometer
  3. Pull the ear backwards and upwards to straighten the ear canal when the thermometer is ready to register a reading
  4. Center the probe tip in the ear, and push gently inward towards the eardrum. Do not force it in.
  5. Press the activation button and hold until a reading appears (some models may beep when it is ready for a reading)
  6. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature
  7. Discard cap after use (use a new cap for every temperature taking) Non-contact infrared forehead thermometer
  8. Non-contact infrared forehead thermometers are held 3 cm to 5 cm from the person and typically measure temperature on the forehead or temple
  9. If the temperature reading is >37.4ºC, you may have fever
  10. Person’s head to hold still and to hold the thermometer steady for 2-3 seconds during the measurement. Movement will impact the temperature reading
  11. For best results, the person should be indoors and away from direct sunlight for at least 30 minutes before taking temperature
  12. Remove any hair from forehead before measuring temperature. Clean any sweat or dirt or cosmetic away from forehead to improve accuracy

Remember:

  • It is important to read the manufacturer’s instructions on the proper use of the thermometer
  • When washing glass or digital thermometers, wash only the area in contact with the mouth/skin as the thermometer may not be waterproof
  • Do not talk when taking an oral temperature or move about when taking an armpit temperature

Do you know:

  • Temperatures taken at different parts of the body present different readings – those taken from the armpit are lower than readings from the mouth and ear
  • For adults: if the armpit temperature is 37.0ºC and above, the oral temperature is 37.3ºC and above, or the ear temperature is 37.7ºC and above, you have a fever
  • Children (below 12 years) have a fever if the armpit temperature is over 37.2ºC, the oral temperature is over 37.5ºC or the ear temperature is over 37.9ºC
  • The normal temperature for healthy adults and children ranges from 36.2ºC to 37.2ºC and the average normal temperature is taken as 37.0ºC
  • Children tend to have higher body temperatures due to higher metabolic rates
  • Women who are ovulating may have temperatures that are 0.6ºC higher due to hormonal changes in their bodies
  • Adults over 65 years of age may have temperatures that are 0.3ºC lower because of lower metabolic rates

Setting up screening procedures for visitors and employees

How to conduct contact tracing

Screening your visitors

Responding to an employee infection case

Notification form for employees
Suspected infection case at work

Monitoring the temperature of your employees

Tips on Temperature Taking

When to take your temperature:

  1. Wait for 20 to 30 minutes after smoking, eating, or drinking a hot or cold liquid
  2. Wait at least 1 hour after heavy exercise or a hot bath before measuring body Temperature

How to take your temperature:

  1. There are different ways of temperature taking for the different types of thermometers Available

Glass thermometer

  1. Wash the thermometer bulb with soap and water before use
  2. Shake the thermometer a few times to bring the level of liquid in the thermometer below 35ºC
  3. Temperatures can be taken from the armpit or mouth

Armpit reading

  1. Place the thermometer bulb under your armpit. Press arm against body to hold the thermometer in place. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature after 5 Minutes

Oral reading

  1. Place the thermometer bulb under your tongue. Close your mouth and do not talk or bite the thermometer. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature after 3 minutes
  2. Wash the bulb of the thermometer with soap and water after use

Note: Do not use a mercury thermometer for children under six in case of breakage leading to mercury poisoning.

Digital thermometer

  1. Wash the area of the thermometer bulb with soap and water before use
  2. Switch on the thermometer and wait until it is ready to register a reading
  3. Temperatures can be taken from the armpit or mouth

Armpit reading

  1. Place the thermometer bulb under your armpit. Press arm against body to hold the  thermometer in place. The thermometer will beep to signal that the temperature display is ready for reading. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature

Oral reading

  1. Place the thermometer bulb under your tongue. Close your mouth and do not talk or bite the thermometer. The thermometer will beep to signal that the temperature display is ready for reading. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature
  2. Wash the area of the thermometer bulb with soap and water after use

Ear (tympanic) thermometer

  1. To keep the probe clean, use a disposable probe cover. Use a new cover each time you take an ear temperature
  2. Switch on the thermometer
  3. Pull the ear backwards and upwards to straighten the ear canal when the thermometer is ready to register a reading
  4. Center the probe tip in the ear, and push gently inward towards the eardrum. Do not force it in.
  5. Press the activation button and hold until a reading appears (some models may beep when it is ready for a reading)
  6. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature
  7. Discard cap after use (use a new cap for every temperature taking) Non-contact infrared forehead thermometer
  8. Non-contact infrared forehead thermometers are held 3 cm to 5 cm from the person and typically measure temperature on the forehead or temple
  9. If the temperature reading is >37.4ºC, you may have fever
  10. Person’s head to hold still and to hold the thermometer steady for 2-3 seconds during the measurement. Movement will impact the temperature reading
  11. For best results, the person should be indoors and away from direct sunlight for at least 30 minutes before taking temperature
  12. Remove any hair from forehead before measuring temperature. Clean any sweat or dirt or cosmetic away from forehead to improve accuracy

Remember:

  • It is important to read the manufacturer’s instructions on the proper use of the thermometer
  • When washing glass or digital thermometers, wash only the area in contact with the mouth/skin as the thermometer may not be waterproof
  • Do not talk when taking an oral temperature or move about when taking an armpit temperature

Do you know:

  • Temperatures taken at different parts of the body present different readings – those taken from the armpit are lower than readings from the mouth and ear
  • For adults: if the armpit temperature is 37.0ºC and above, the oral temperature is 37.3ºC and above, or the ear temperature is 37.7ºC and above, you have a fever
  • Children (below 12 years) have a fever if the armpit temperature is over 37.2ºC, the oral temperature is over 37.5ºC or the ear temperature is over 37.9ºC
  • The normal temperature for healthy adults and children ranges from 36.2ºC to 37.2ºC and the average normal temperature is taken as 37.0ºC
  • Children tend to have higher body temperatures due to higher metabolic rates
  • Women who are ovulating may have temperatures that are 0.6ºC higher due to hormonal changes in their bodies
  • Adults over 65 years of age may have temperatures that are 0.3ºC lower because of lower metabolic rates

Understanding the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) framework

Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) framework
Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) framework

The ‘Disease Outbreak Response System Condition’, or DORSCON5 (see Table below), is a colour-coded framework that shows you the current disease situation. It also demonstrates what needs to be done to prevent and reduce the impact of infections

DORSCON takes into account both disease severity and spread to predict the impact on the community. Our risk assessment for DORSCON includes:

  • The current disease situation overseas
  • How transmissible the disease is
  • How likely it is to arrive in Singapore
  • What impact it may have on the local community

Recommended measures to be taken at various DORSCON level are given in the table below. Enterprises should refer to the latestadvisories issued by MOH, MOM and other government agencies to guide them in their business continuity planning


.