Disaster planning by global banking giant HSBC - world's third largest bank - has estimated that as many as fifty per cent of the workforce could be put out of action by a bird flu pandemic
In a report in the Financial Times, head of crisis management at HSBC, Bob Pigg, said that "(Bird flu) is probably the single biggest challenge for the whole group. None of us knows the virulence of the virus, but I would rather be prepared for the worst."
The estimates were made up of the proportion of staff expected to be sick with flu, those with secondary infections, others caring for other family members and those avoiding the office to escape infection.
He added that HSBC had put in place plans to increase working from home and clean offices once an hour in an attempt to limit the possibility of infection.
HSBC said that while the fifty per cent figure was a "worst case" for the number of people that may fall ill or call in sick, it was common sense to plan for every eventuality.