H1N1 Swine Flu - Is Industry Prepared?

According to a recent report by the Ernst and Young Item Club, a London based think-tank, swine flu could devastate the UK economy.

Apparently swine flu could cause Britain's economy to shrink by 7.5% this year and dash hopes of recovery next year. According to Peter Spencer, chief economic advisor to the Ernst & Young Item Club "If the worst-case scenarios of the threat of swine flu are fully realised, gross domestic product could fall by as much as an additional 3% this year and another 1.7% in 2010”.

If this is true for the UK, then the same could apply to all major economies.

It is now widely acknowledged that the virus cannot be contained so management strategies are necessary.

From discussions with my contacts, it seems that across the industry, levels of preparation vary significantly, ranging from no preparation at all, to providing a handful of anti-bacterial sprays to having a full business continuity plan in place.

Regarding the latter, best practice is to carry out a thorough risk assessment based on the various possible scenarios for the spread of the infection. Plans need to be in place for dealing with employees, for operational planning in case of widespread absence and for possible supply chain disruption.

Whilst this is a considerable exercise and will take time and effort to perform well, it is much easier to implement such a plan if it has been well thought through in advance.

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