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COVID-19 in the Government sector

  • Liz Forsyth, Leadership |

Government is clearly on the frontline of the COVID-19 response and is connected to current information regarding research, spread and impact. This is a whole-of-government issue which needs to be tackled from a number of angles but clearly safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the population is critical and primary. Governments are deploying a range of measures to delay, contain or manage the infection and are deploying resources to protect members of the population who are most at-risk, including those with underlying health issues and people over 70.

At a secondary level, governments are increasingly alive to the wider economic impacts of the outbreak in both the short and medium-terms. The pandemic and our responses to it will have a significant impact on household finances, business performance and cashflow, global supply chains and a range of other economics factors. This will exacerbate the global GDP slowdown from 2019 particularly in sectors with high levels of economic interconnectedness and is likely to cause recession in some economies. The current forecast is for a V-shaped impact with a rebound in the second half of 2020 though this will need to be updated as the full impact in large economies is understood. It is highly likely that all forecasts will need to be remodelled to account for the short and longer term effects of the virus.

While the short-term economic impact is clearly negative and many businesses and working practices will be disrupted there are glimmers of hope. Forcing businesses to change may unlock a number of improvements that can be sustained as a step towards the workforce of the future. Banning travel and enforcing virtual working will challenge inefficient working practices and elements of that should be maintained to support productivity and employee wellbeing. Responses to the pandemic will strengthen but may also test the value proposition and resilience of technology.

Both the health and economic responses should be supported by international interconnection. Each country is at a different stage of the crisis so can learn from each other regarding containment and management interventions, vaccine and treatment development and economic and social responses. Governments should ensure that they are connected to the cutting edge of the outbreak, as it develops.

Learnings will need to be adapted to the individual circumstances of each country. Each country, region and community has individual risk points and each government has different levers that it can pull to manage spread and effect. But understanding what has worked elsewhere, and why, provides a rich source of support as governments lead the response to this crisis.

To facilitate the sharing of information and the latest developments we will update this blog weekly with approaches and responses in key geographies.

Key information sources regarding COVID-19 that hold valuable insights today include: