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The Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 issue 37: Tackling the complexity of the pandemic

The unpredictable and complex nature of the pandemic, which has caused significant challenges for risk communication from public health systems, national and local governments, comes under the spotlight in the latest issue of the Manchester Briefing.

The Briefing, from AMBS and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, brings together international lessons for local and national government recovery and renewal in the wake of the pandemic.

The latest issue reports how the last 15 months has seen a constant shift between response and recovery given the multiple waves of the pandemic, at different times, and in different places, nationally and sub-nationally.

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Demands

Reflecting on the past year, the Briefing asks whether our risk communication systems were able to meet the demands of the pandemic. As it reports: “Our imaginations appear to have fallen short of foreseeing how widespread, prolonged, and recurring the pandemic could be. COVID-19 has pressured response organisations to build trust and communicate transparently and effectively with communities of especially vulnerable people, as well as those who were not previously thought of in this way. However, the risk of COVID-19 being at all our doorsteps has heightened our personal sense of being at risk, making us more receptive to risk communications.”

The briefing considers risk communication as part of the Local Resilience Capability (LRC) and discusses how communication is central to LRC as it ensures that communities are aware of risks, more able to recognise risks, prepare for them, and be better informed of how to respond to and mitigate the impacts of risks when they occur.

But, communication also allows our communities to share their awareness of changing risks, pinpoint new vulnerabilities, and highlight better preparedness being coordinated locally – all of which may inform local resilience partnerships of a changing profile of local risk.

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Efforts of volunteers

This week’s Briefing also considers how the efforts of volunteers, who have played a key role during the pandemic, can be celebrated.

It says there could be many ways to celebrate and show appreciation for the work of volunteers such as by recognising their impact in local communities, thanking them through social media channels, or via community-funded gift baskets which could include vouchers or discounts from local businesses. Awards could also be distributed to volunteers to recognise their efforts.

The Briefing also looks at how cities can build resilient infrastructure in the wake of the pandemic. It says accelerating resilient infrastructure has recently dominated discussions about recovery from COVID-19 across the world and how this can improve health, education and livelihoods.

It cites a 2019 report from the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery which highlighted the net benefits of investing in resilient infrastructure in developing countries. Among its recommendations for advancing resilient infrastructure was focusing on preparedness and prevention to improve resilience and reduce the likelihood of needing to spend billions to recover and renew from the impacts of an emergency.

Download this week's Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 (issue 37)

If you would like to contribute your knowledge to the Briefing contact Duncan.Shaw-2@manchester.ac.uk