Planning for a pandemic

Dec 13 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Thousands of companies in Britain have not planned how they will keep going during a bird flu pandemic, with the melt-down of public transport services and disruption to the food distribution chain among the biggest worries taxing emergency planners.

A pandemic would last for between three and four months and infect an estimated 25 per cent of the population so, according to government estimates, up to 7 per cent of staff would be off at any one time.

But some companies think the real rate of absenteeism would be far higher - up to 60 per cent off at any one time.

Other industry figures were worried about 'cascades of failure', such as the impact if mobile phone networks were closed down by a major power failure across London.

In particular, the Guardian suggests, there is little evidence that transport companies have planned for a pandemic. Should one happen, train and bus drivers would be off sick so train companies would only run limited services.

"The government has asked them for detailed plans to ensure that commuters could still get to work," the Guardian adds.

The Guardian | Britain could grind to a halt in a bird flu pandemic, experts fear