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Imogen Page-Jarrett, research analyst for China at The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), shares her views on the role of employers and human resources professionals when dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

Companies will need to implement business continuity plans to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, which The Economist Intelligence Unit does not expect to be contained until the end of March under its baseline scenario, Page-Jarrett explained.

According to a survey of Economist Corporate Network members across Asia between 31 January and 6 February, 76% of those quizzed said that the coronavirus outbreak had already had a negative impact on their businesses, while 80% have or are working on a contingency plan.

When planning, The Economist Intelligence Unit recommends that companies be flexible in their approach to protect revenue by switching to alternative product lines, sourcing alternative suppliers and focusing on regions exempt from strict quarantine measures.

Financial departments will need to revise budgets for 2020, taking into account a drop in Chinese demand in the first quarter of the year, while still needing to meet operational costs.

HR departments should support flexible working hours, and working from home, where possible during the public health emergency, while also complying with legal requirements to ensure the health and safety of staff.