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Rotorua businesses not prepared for pandemic

Rotorua businesses not prepared for pandemic

An online survey to gauge how prepared Rotorua businesses are for an influenza pandemic has found just 10% have a plan in place.

Seventy-five businesses in the Rotorua District took part in the survey, conducted by the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with Toi Te Ora – Public Health in July 2006.

One third of the businesses were small (less than five staff), one third had between five and 80 staff members and eight organisations had more than 80 staff.

The survey found 60% of businesses had spoken to staff about “bird flu” or pandemic influenza, 33% introduced paper towels as a hygiene measure and 25% introduced regular updates for staff and stocked up on supplies.

“This is positive, but only eight of the 75 businesses have written a business continuity plan, most of which have more than 20 staff,” says Chamber of Commerce CEO Roger Gordon. “While the survey sample size is relatively small, it tells us most businesses are not taking the issue seriously enough.”

A pandemic is not a hypothetical event, it will happen one day. In the event of a pandemic, no sector will be spared and up to 50% of staff in any one business will be affected by influenza over the course of a pandemic– whether they are sick or at home looking after sick family members.

Even small businesses, with fewer than five staff members need to sit down and plan for a pandemic, according to Toi Te Ora – Public Health Medical Officer of Health Dr Phil Shoemack.

“Just because you’re a small business, doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about what essential services you would continue running, HR issues such as annual and sick leave and the best way to avoid the spread of infection during a pandemic,” he says.

The survey asked participants how they would like to be assisted with planning for a pandemic. Half of the businesses wanted hygiene practice reminders, a business-planning template and email updates. Two thirds of the businesses preferred website information to 0800-nunber and flyers.

“The ‘Pandemic Influenza – What you need to know’ seminars on August 3 will provide hand hygiene stickers and flyers as well as a business planning template,” says Roger Gordon. “Any business can also receive the Pandemic E-News, a monthly update from the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Boards.”

Dr Phil Shoemack says useful information is readily available from a range of sources, including the Internet, but these seminars bring it all under one roof in an interesting and informative way.

‘Pandemic Influenza – What you need to know’ seminars
Thursday August 3
9am-11am OR 1:30pm–3:30pm
Rotorua District Council
Committee Room One

To RSVP contact sarah.gorringe@bopdhb.govt.nz or 07 5773772

Ends

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