Just when people began to feel hope that the pandemic will recede, a new mutation emerged: the Delta variant. It has caused local surges in cases across the world, putting millions of unvaccinated people at risk.
With this new threat, businesses in Singapore are finding ways to protect their employees while keeping their operations afloat.
A Look into the Delta Variant
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the Delta variant is more transmissible than influenza and common cold viruses. This highly contagious virus strain was first identified in India in late 2020 and spread quickly across the country, eventually finding its way to other countries like the Great Britain and the U.S.
A Highly Contagious Variant
Its highly contagious nature worries experts and authorities. Just seven months after it was identified in India, the Delta variant became responsible for over 80% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. According to an article published by Yale Medicine, the Delta spreads 50% faster than the Alpha variant, which by itself is 50% more contagious than the original strain.
This means that cases would likely grow exponentially. The original strain could infect 2.5 other people in an unmitigated environment. In contrast, the Delta variant could infect 4 other people in the same environment.
The Tendency for Hyperlocal Outbreaks
Vaccination has helped contain the COVID-19 pandemic, but areas with low vaccination rates are a prime target for the Delta variant. Yale Medicine reports that people who are not fully vaccinated yet face the biggest risk for Delta variant infections.
As such, towns and cities with low vaccination rates could host hyperlocal outbreaks, with the virus contained in its borders.
Containing the virus may sound good, but there’s a grim catch. If the area has too many COVID-19 cases, the local healthcare system may be overwhelmed, and death rates may climb.
The Delta in Singapore
In July 2021, The Straits Times reported that COVID-19 infections in Singapore are growing alongside the global uptick in cases. In fact, local daily infections jumped to 163 on July 19 and since then stayed above 100. Experts believe that the highly transmissible Delta variant is to blame.
The Business Sector’s Response
The Delta variant may impact the business sector dramatically, just like the original strain in early 2020. As such, companies implement strict measures to protect Singapore’s supply chain deliveries, guard their employees, and keep their customers safe.
Here are a few ways your business can cope with the spread of the Delta variant.
Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent hospitalization and death from the Delta variant. A small percentage of fully vaccinated people will still acquire a COVID-19 infection, but they are less likely to be seriously ill. Vaccinated individuals are also less likely to spread the virus to other people.
It pays to encourage vaccination among your employees. Research from the World Health Organization shows that the best interventions to increase vaccination uptake are:
- Increase knowledge and awareness about vaccines
- Make vaccinations more convenient and accessible
- Engage influential leaders to promote vaccination
Rethink Return-to-Office Decisions
The Delta variant transmission made many businesses reconsider office policies. Some companies may have allowed employees to return to the offices, but the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant might put the workers and the people they live with and interact with at risk.
A business can reduce the possibility of contributing to hyperlocal outbreaks by delaying the employees’ return. Companies may also return to the staggered schedules and hybrid work set-ups they have implemented during the start of the pandemic.
Maintain COVID-19 Policies
In line with delaying return-to-office policies, it’s best for businesses to continue — or even increase — their social distancing protocols in the workplace. This may include reducing the capacity at which they accept customers.
Moreover, businesses may also look into better sanitation procedures to further reduce the spread of the Delta variant.
Rethink Company Travel Policies
Before the Delta variant became a variant of concern, many businesses became lenient with their travel policies, especially with domestic travel.
With the Delta variant causing an uptick in cases, it would be better for decision-makers in the organization to err on the side of caution and curtail company-related travel. The business should limit non-essential team gatherings and executive meetings, too.
Above all, companies must uphold awareness and knowledge. The organization should make reliable and accurate COVID-19 data available to its workforce, including information about vaccinations, any changes in company policy, and local regulations.