Businesses Warned To Be Ready For New SARS Outbreak - InformationWeek

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Businesses Warned To Be Ready For New SARS Outbreak

Gartner says companies need to prepare immediately for potential disruptions caused by the disease, which has resurfaced again in China.

Businesses should immediately prepare for possible disruptions caused by a new outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, research firm Gartner said Friday.

Although governments are generally well prepared for another round of SARS, Gartner analyst Dion Wiggs said in a statement, business organizations "may not have learned the lessons of the last crisis."

Earlier this week, the Chinese government confirmed that a man in Guangdong province had contracted SARS. It's the first case outside of a medical facility since last year's outbreak was declared contained by the World Health Organization.

That outbreak not only killed, but also affected the economies of several Asian countries, particularly China and Singapore. Even U.S.-based companies felt its effects, due to quarantines imposed on workers overseas and in Canada, and because supply chains were disrupted as travel and air freight were curtailed.

Wiggins recommended that all companies assemble plans to deal with another surge in SARS, including putting into place policies and procedures for remote access by employees who may be quarantined or unable to travel to areas infected with the disease.

"Plan to give remote workers secure virtual private network access to mission-critical data and applications," said Wiggins. The hardware and software necessary for such remote access should be acquired--or contingency plans made for its purchase.

Additionally, businesses should develop strategies for keeping in contact with employees, suppliers, and partners if SARS should reappear--to alert them of any changes in the company's procedures--and insure that all contact lists are up to date.

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