New Zealand preps pandemic flu plans

NZ Pandemic Planning Kit for Infrastructure Providers

The New Zealand Ministry of Health released business continuity plans last week in case of an outbreak of influenza, with one plan targeted at essential infrastructure providers.

Intended for telecommunications, transportation, electricity, water, sewage and natural gas and petroleum providers, the continuity plan states that those businesses need to function at the fullest extent possible during a pandemic, coordinate their activities, have a high-level management plan and institute a recovery priority checklist.

The business continuity plans are based on New Zealand’s National Health Emergency plan released in 2004, which calls for measures to curtail a pandemic’s affects on commerce.

Those measures include plans to close the borders to all foreigners, quarantine all returning New Zealand citizens for as long as eight days, close schools and ban mass gatherings.

The New Zealand business continuity plans call for business managers to:

* Appoint an influenza manager to monitor employees who are ill or suspected of being ill.

* Plan for as many as 50 percent of the organization’s employees to miss two to three weeks.

* Identify essential staff positions and skills and ensure that critical positions have a reserve.

* Enable staff to work from home.

* Identify ways to increase social distancing in the workplace to reduce spread of the flu.

The plans also warn of supply shortages caused by transportation system limitations. That industry could suffer because of staff shortages and mandated or self-imposed travel restrictions.

Besides New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom have developed national pandemic plans. Despite the spread of avian flu strains of H5N1 globally this fall, the United States has yet to release such a plan.

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