The World Health Organisation has increased the pandemic alert to level 5, although a pandemic has not yet been declared.
Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer said:"A change to phase five is a signal to countries’ governments to ramp up their pandemic preparations – which we are already doing.
"We have been planning for a situation like this for some years. The preparations we have in place and are continuing to make will help to ensure we respond well in the event of a pandemic.
If you have returned from an affected area and have flu like symptoms stay at home, call your GP or NHS Direct and you will be assessed and receive treatment if necessary.”
You may find useful the current guidance summarised here that is already available for employers on planning for a pandemic influenza outbreak.
CURRENT GUIDANCE ALREADY AVAILABLE FOR EMPLOYERS ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA [Note: A pandemic has not yet been declared]
Introductory advice to staff on planning for pandemic influenza
This document can be used to raise awareness and to keep you informed of the risks and the planning work which is underway. All the information contained in this document is from published sources (listed at end). http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/132829/intro_staffadvice_flu_planning.pdf
Pandemic influenza – risk assessment in the occupational setting
The Health Protection agency and the department of Health have worked closely with the healthcare sector and certain non-healthcare services, such as the police and fire and rescue services, to develop pandemic influenza infection control guidance for specific occupational settings (available at www.ukresilience.gov.uk/pandemicflu/guidance/sector_specific.aspx). However, it is not possible to outline detailed pandemic influenza infection control guidance for every occupation or to cover every conceivable scenario where a person might be exposed to the risk of infection from flu. With this in mind, this simple and generic guidance has been developed to raise awareness of the measures that may be employed to reduce the spread of the flu virus at work. it aims to:
- allow businesses to evaluate potential situations where there may be possible exposure to the flu virus
- describe the steps that can be taken to moderate any potential exposure to the flu virus in the workplace
- set out the measures that might be used to reduce the spread of the flu virus in the workplace
- provide a matrix that can be used to consider the best ways of reducing the spread of flu in a work environment
- put into context the relative value of personal protective equipment, including the wearing of face masks,1 when compared with other environmental and organisational approaches.
Pandemic Influenza Checklist for Businesses
To assist in developing and reviewing plans, the Government has developed the following checklist specifically regarding pandemic influenza. It identifies important and specific activities which organisations can do to prepare for a pandemic as well as where more general guidance will be provided by the Government. Directed mainly at medium and large businesses, some elements will be of use to smaller businesses. http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/132464/060516flubcpchecklist.pdf
Pandemic influenza workplace guidance - HSE The following link provides information for work places from the Health and Safety Executive. http://www.hse.gov.uk/biosafety/diseases/pandflu.htm