The Business Advisory Network for ‘flu, which has been established by the Cabinet Office and the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, gave a briefing to Government departments, agencies and key businesses on Tuesday of this week. This has been updated in a statement by the Heath Secretary, Andy Burnham MP, to the House of Commons yesterday stating that the UK is moving to a treatment phase to manage the current pandemic ‘flu outbreak. The move to using anti-viral drugs for treatment only is consistent with the approach being taken in other countries across the world including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Mexico.
Current daily new infection rates are between 600 and 750 cases. It is envisaged that within the next fortnight this will rise to 1000 new cases per day, this is equivalent to the daily peak of seasonal flu in a normal winter. There have been four deaths of swine flu in the UK to date, all of which have been of patients with other underlying medical issues.
The Department of Health, BANF and the Health Protection Agency advise that the peak of the first wave of infection will take place this summer, probably in 3 - 4 weeks time. This could lead to between 10 - 13% of staff absent for work for, on average, 4 or 5 days. Infected individuals are advised to stay at home and ask a friend to collect drug treatments from a GP, although GPs will be asked to prioritize anti-viral treatments for the most vulnerable presenting flu symptoms (such as the very young, the very old and those with underlying medical conditions, including pregnancy). In the vast majority of cases, however, the symptoms are quite mild and similar to seasonal flu. Health advice is available from the Health Protection Agency.
The Government is not considering proposing any restrictions on travel or gatherings or making any quarantine arrangements. Business continuity tools have been published and made available and can be accessed through the links below.
VisitBritain continues to monitor the situation via its network of overseas offices. Travel from countries such as China and Singapore continues to be significantly impacted and there has been some strong coverage in a number of markets of the announcement made by Health Secretary, Andy Burnham yesterday saying there could be more than 100,000 cases a day by the end of August. It is still too soon to tell whether this will have a negative impact on travel.
Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group (TIER)