In response to growing concerns about a potential coronavirus pandemic, China has imposed a quarantine on Wuhan, a city of eleven million people in Hubai province.
All outbound flights and trains from Wuhan have been cancelled, and service on local public transportation has been suspended. Chinese authorities have concluded, preliminarily, that this most recent Wuhan Coronavirus resembles the virus that causes SARS, albeit with a much lower mortality rate. To date, the Wuhan Coronavirus is responsible for 547 confirmed cases and 17 confirmed deaths.
Coronavirus is a class of viruses that are known to cause illnesses as mild as the common cold, to as serious as SARS. SARS, Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome, was responsible for the deaths of over 550 people in Hong Kong and China in 2002-2003.
Social isolation – quarantine – is an ancient, yet effective tool in responding to serious disease, and in helping to stem the rise of a pandemic. Obviously, such a step is extremely disruptive, and not only to people’s day-to-day lives. In addition to the social and personal concerns raised by quarantine, there are also business and commercial issues. Insureds with commercial exposure to quarantine include companies with diverse international supply networks, transportation companies, schools, restaurant and hospitality, and many others.
Further, quarantine is not just an Asian phenomenon. The CDC website includes an excellent history of US quarantine:
This exposure will become more prevalent, and risk managers should consider their client’s exposure to quarantine.