Following comments made today on bird flu by Animal Health Minister Ben Bradshaw, David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

"It is now time for the Government to step up a gear in the communications ahead of a possible bird flu outbreak. Businesses must be central in the Government's contingency planning for the threat of pandemic flu".

"We will need to maintain essential services and supplies. We need also to minimise the economic impacts should a flu pandemic attack a high proportion of the population".

"Although we appreciate there are many difficulties involved in planning for this possible outbreak, the Government's contingency planning has not included or informed businesses sufficiently. The situation is changing on a weekly, if not daily basis, but much of the Government's information remains several months out of date."