Asia Pacific Update: June 18
In today’s edition, our recovery spotlight looks at how the pandemic has healthcare sectors are returning to non-COVID care and treatments during recovery, how a certain fitness brand transformed their business in the wake of gym closures, and what research suggests are the biggest concerns of returning workforces (and how to meet them).
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Recovery Spotlight: Healthcare Beyond COVID-19
In addition to the immediate impacts and demands of managing COVID-19, healthcare experts have consistently warned that the pandemic may lead to complications for treatment of non-COVID ailments. “In Canada during the SARS epidemic, more people died from non-SARS related issues than from SARS itself,” notes Australian Medical Association president Tony Bartone.
Reach52 founder and chief executive officer Edward Booty, meanwhile, has said that, for each death caused by COVID-19, there will likely be 180 deaths from other diseases. Across the Asia Pacific, health systems that have successfully managed the virus so fare are now beginning to re-allocate much-needed resources towards non-COVID-19 care.
Keimyung University Daegu Dongsan Hospital, which received nearly 10% of South Korea’s COVID-19 cases, reopened for non-COVID-19 patients on June 15.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s Ministry of Health noted that, with fewer pandemic cases requiring hospitalization, beds in public hospitals previously set aside for such patients would be disinfected and converted for non-COVID-19 patients.
As the utilization of wards designated for COVID-19 hovers at less than 15% capacity, Malaysia‘s hospitals will begin to admit more regular patients. The country’s Health Ministry is reducing the number of staff currently redeployed to combat the virus.
Restoring normal services
According to the World Economic Forum, global backlog of elective surgeries cancelled due to the pandemic could take up to a year to clear, if countries increase surgical volumes by 20%.
In Australia, the elective surgery backlog is being aggressively, but safely addressed through public-private hospital partnerships. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced US$173 million in elective surgery funding, as hospitals conduct more elective procedures outside of regular hours.
Private hospitals in New South Wales and Victoria got the green light from health authorities to return to 75% of their pre-pandemic elective surgery capacity by June, with an aim to reach 100% in July. Tasmania is increasing the number of elective surgeries conducted ‘in the safest way possible’ according to Health Minister Sarah Courtney, following a hospital closure upon uncovering a COVID-19 case.
Similarly, the elective surgery backlog in New Zealand will reported take years to address, due to shortages of specialized doctors and the same doctors working in both public and private sector hospitals. US$182 million from the 2020 budget has been set aside to clear backlogs of scans, surgeries, and procedures created by the pandemic.
Resuming clinical research
Many clinical trials in oncology, central nervous system and infectious diseases were disrupted during April and May, according to GlobalData’s global clinical trial data. However, this trend has begun to slow in June, with the number of clinical trials taking place growing.
Treatment researchers in Australia have been able to benefit from an additional US$277million in federal funding for research into new treatments for mental and infectious diseases. Announced by Health Minister Hunt, 237 new projects are backed by the National Health Research Council and a further 30 through the Medical Research Future Fund.
Media analysis of stories from Australia, Cambodia, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Malaysia, Macau, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam published between 18 May and 18 June
The Work of COVID-19: Keeping Fitness First
When Singapore introduced measures to reduce crowd density and ensure safe distancing, Fitness First found itself having to close its gym centers across the island at short notice.
Weber Shandwick managed media and social communications around the closure, and helped the chain create its Fitness at Home Workout series with partner gyms across Southeast Asia. In the first two weeks of the campaign, over two million viewers participated in the series.
Delivering its signature classes (including Dynamic Flow Yoga and Les Mills) on Fitness First and partner Facebook pages meant everyone could stay fit together, wherever they were, and ensured fitness instructors could continue to earn a living in an incredibly challenging time.
Deeper Insights: Mitigating Fallout Through Collaboration
“They are saying, ‘Great to know the government supports reopening, but are we ready? Not just our operations, but from a people perspective?’ During shutdown, people were being prioritized above commercial interests, and that principle is thankfully carrying through to the reopening phase.”
In an exclusive conversation with PR Week, Anthea Hoyle, EVP at United Minds, Weber Shandwick’s management consulting group, discusses workforce re-entry and best management practices for brands returning to full operations post-COVID-19.
About COVID-19 Recovery Report:
- The content of this news bulletin is a summary of publicly available news articles on events and developments related to COVID-19.
- The views and opinions reflected by these headlines do not necessarily represent those of Weber Shandwick.