Contingency Planning

Management and managers should have contingency plans ready, just in case. However, the on-going public health emergency, recently labelled by WHO as a COVID19 pandemic, has exposed that organisations and employers are not prepared for change or business interruption. Even when organisations had some broad ideas, it was never formalised in a plan and never tested, only after the idea was tested was it revealed the idea did not work in practice.

In addition to the general confusion, caused by poor communications, random individuals post opinions and “advice” on social media, would you believe that an electrician is sending COVID19 pandemic advice!

In the context of the built environment, I am raising this issue because building operators, organisations and employers fail to plan for events that can be reasonably foreseen, such as fire. Organizing periodic fire drills to safely escape from a building in the event of a fire should be routine, but sadly its not.

Yet, there are countless tragedies every year, fatalities caused by a range of issues, locked fire escape doors trapping people inside buildings being one common issue. I have often been called to witness standby generator tests, which would not start! Therefore, in the event of an emergency those safety systems have no power!

COVID19 and Legionnaires Disease

It’s generally accepted that the number of Legionnaires Disease infections is under-reported, I predicted that the heightened public health surveillance for COVID19 would reveal an increasing number of Legionnaires Disease infections because both COVID19 and Legionella cause pneumonia.

Here in Hong Kong, there is an example that might illustrate the point, case details provided by CHP are very limited [link] nevertheless it is interesting to consider the case of a male who was admitted to a hospital on 4 Feb. 2020 [NOTE: that is the same date when five Legionnaires Disease outbreak cases residing in the nearby housing estates were reported ] he was diagnosed as pneumonia, treated and released on 19th February 2020. He didn’t recover and was admitted again on 24th February 2020, but this time Legionnaires Disease was the diagnosis.

ABOVE: Ironic that fire sand bucket was used to hold open the fire/smoke stop door

When to plan?

To be perfectly blunt, its too late to try planning your escape from fire while trying to exit from a burning building, a decent manager will have a plan and considered difficult questions, or force a plan to be created, before a disaster strikes.

Legionnaires Disease Outbreak Hong Kong update 15 Feb 2020 Cold Weather

There are countless poorly informed commentators that promulgate the myth that Legionnaires Disease is only warm-weather / summer time disease, it’s not, and never has been.

It’s winter in Hong Kong and we have an ongoing Legionnaires Disease Outbreak with patients admitted between 1 Feb. 2020 – 14 Feb. 2020 so far.

Lets assuming ten (10) day incubation period, what was the weather during that period of time? The Hong Kong Observatory records daily weather data, and the following minimum and maximum air temperatures were in recorded at Kwun Tong, the nearest weather station to the outbreak:

  • 22 Jan 2020 between 16.9 C and 24.4 deg C
  • 23 Jan 2020 between 19.8 C and 25.5 deg C
  • 24 Jan 2020 between 18.4 C and 22.6 deg C
  • 25 Jan 2020 between 17.9 C and 21.9 deg C
  • 26 Jan 2020 between 12.2 C and 20.1 deg C
  • 27 Jan 2020 between 9.8 C and 16.9 deg C
  • 28 Jan 2020 between 9.9 C and 16.4 deg C
  • 29 Jan 2020 between 10.1 C and 17.9 deg C
  • 30 Jan 2020 between 10.3 C and 17.6 deg C
  • 31 Jan 2020 between 11.7 C and 17.8 deg C
  • 1 Feb 2020 between 13.4 and 17.7 deg C
  • 2 Feb 2020 between 15.0 and 17.7 deg C

The HKO data shows the typical range of wintertime temperatures experienced during the cold weather season in Hong Kong.

In conclusion, the evidence demonstrates that during cold weather Legionnaires Disease outbreaks do occur, contrary to literature this disease is NOT limited to warmer climate conditions, and during the winter Legionnaires Disease cases, clusters, and outbreaks may occur.

HKO cold weather warning symbol

#legionella #outbreak #winter #legionnaires #disease #hongong

Novel Coronavirus and SARS

A novel coronavirus emerged from Wuhan City, China in December 2019 (2019-nCOV) and it is apparent that it shares many similarities with the 2003 SARS outbreak, the virus is transported inside water droplets (aerosols) from coughing and sneezing in the air and its also shed in fecal matter which in turn is aerosolized risking contamination of surfaces.

History ignored is destained to be repeated, the same engineering issues remain today creating panic in the Hong Kong community.

Back in 2003, Kelcroft’s John Herbert was one of the few engineers that dared to visit buildings during the SARS outbreak, to highlight buildings requiring urgent improvements. You might not worry about a disconnected vent pipe, until you understand that’s a transmission path for the virus into your home.

Like SARS, and Legionella (which is bacteria) the novel coronavirus can be transported in the air, it’s said to be airborne pathogen, protected inside a water droplet, and depending on the air temperature and humidity, it is thought to be able to carry its virus package over long distances, outside and inside home.

And with favourable environmental conditions, the virus remains viable for up to 5 days on hard surfaces. ( link to useful Singaporean government list of household disinfection products).

If you are interested, here is a link to download our free SARS 2003 report: http://www.kelcroft.com.hk/download/kelcroft-sars-report-may-2003.pdf

#sars #coronavirus #hongkong #2019-nCOV #airbourne #kelcroft #2003