Ebola – What Business Continuity Professionals Need to Know

You’ve all seen the news – the sometimes (perhaps often) inaccurate and exaggerated presentation of ‘facts’ and race for ratings has started. We’re by no means downplaying the seriousness of the situation – Ebola is extremely serious and should be treated as such. However, causing panic isn’t going to do anyone any good. Rather, a focus on knowledge building, preparedness, and communication with stakeholders, senior management, and employees should be your top priorities right now.

As such, the sole intent of this article is to provide guidance on what actions business continuity professionals should be taking at this point, as well as resources to better understand the situation. Continue reading

H1N1 Virus May Be Transmittable For Longer Than Originally Thought

H1N1 transmissionAs scientists learn more about the H1N1 virus, guidance regarding the most appropriate preventative measures changes. The current CDC stance on when it is appropriate for ill employees to return to work after diagnosed or probable infection with H1N1 is to wait until 24 hours after their fever breaks without fever reducing medication.  However, new research indicates that the virus may still be transmittable for a number of days after that, and instead, waiting until their cough subsides is a stronger indicator of a person’s (lack of) infectiousness. Continue reading

Preparation & Planning: The US Government’s Advisory on H1N1

H1N1With a potential wide-spread outbreak of H1N1 looming, the US Government released two resources last month to provide preparation assistance: the Report to the President on the US Preparations for 2009-H1N1 Influenza and Flu.gov’s Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to the 2009/2010 Influenza Season.

The Report, provided by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, assessed the Obama Administration’s preparations for this fall’s expected resurgence of 2009-H1N1 flu and outlined key steps officials should take in the coming weeks and months to minimize the disease’s impact. Continue reading

Preparing for H1N1

pandemicAs Published in the May/June Issue of Continuity Insights

This spring introduced another threat with global business continuity implications.  The swine flu, or more appropriately 2009 H1N1, caused alarm among the population as this novel influenza A strain appeared for the first time, originating in rural Mexico.  At the time of this writing, the 2009 H1N1 virus continues to spread worldwide, affecting seventy countries with over twenty-one thousand confirmed and probable cases in the United States as logged by the CDC.  Thus far, 2009 H1N1 has a relatively low mortality rate, with symptoms resembling seasonal flu.  On June 11, 2009 The World Health Organization (WHO) raised its alert level to a Phase VI, indicating “increased and sustained transmission in general population”.  As a result, the 2009 H1N1 is now classified as a pandemic. Continue reading

WHO Declares Pandemic Phase 6 – Don’t Panic, but DO PREPARE!

Do Not PanicThe World Health Organization (WHO) raised its pandemic alert level to Phase 6, the highest alert level.  Phase 6 is defined as increased and sustained transmission in the general population “characterized by community level outbreaks in at least one other country in a different WHO region” than where it originated.

This designation means a global pandemic is under way.  As of June 11th, almost 30,000 cases have been confirmed globally in 74 countries.  However, on a positive note, there have not been any significant mutations in the virus thus far, and the virus has proven to be relatively stable.

What does this mean to your organization? Continue reading

Human Resource Policy Considerations During a Pandemic

hr policy perspectiveSince the April 2009 H1N1 outbreak, business continuity professionals around the world began the process of reevaluating their pandemic preparedness strategies. A commonly-identified preparedness activity is the evaluation of Human Resources policies. In the past, some organizations amended their policies to enable appropriate responses, others drafted amended policies but held them in reserve until a time when they may be necessary. Still others did nothing, hoping for the time to make amendments if needed.  However, with the rapid spread of the April 2009 H1N1 outbreak and its origination in North America, those organizations that chose to wait because they made an assumption that they would have time were greatly impacted. Human Resources policies, with appropriate content reflecting issues present during a pervasive public health event, were needed almost immediately due to heightened concern brought on by the media and government agency responses (i.e. school closures, social distancing recommendations, and additional sanitization measures). The purpose of this article is to equip business continuity professionals with the information necessary to partner with their Human Resources professionals in establishing (or amending) policies in preparation for a pandemic response, regardless of severity or locality. Continue reading

FFIEC Expands Pandemic Planning Guidance for Financial Institutions

stacy FFIEC perspective v2Introduction
For financial institutions waiting for more formal guidance from the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council (FFIEC) before planning for a pandemic, the time is here.  The FFIEC, an interagency council that prescribes uniform standards for the United States financial industry, recently followed up the industry’s “Interagency Advisory on Influenza Pandemic Preparedness” and NCUA’s “Letter to Credit Union 06-CU-06 – Influenza Pandemic Preparedness” with new guidance. Continue reading

Using Our Time Wisely

Flock of Geese SmallThough bird flu has been discussed in the media for over a decade now, few citizens have actually considered what a pandemic would mean in respect to their daily lives.  PandemicFlu.gov recently posted a fantastic article that discusses how a pandemic would impact every American family and business, along with steps everyone can take to mitigate the impacts.  Avalution has reposted the article in its entirety.  A link to the original article can be found at the bottom of the posting.

Just last week, Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, called bird flu the greatest global health threat of the 21st century. Continue reading