BBC Two`s Horizon highlights horrors of a flu pandemic
Released on = November 21, 2006, 5:56 am
Press Release Author = Lumison
Industry = Telecommunications
Press Release Summary = Survey shows only 22% of business critical suppliers would be prepared for a real-life outbreak
Press Release Body = 8th November 2006 - In spite of the fact that hundreds of millions of people could be infected by a flu pandemic, only 22 per cent of large suppliers of business critical services, including telcos and banks, have included the risk of pandemics, such as Avian Flu, in their business continuity plans, according to figures released today. The survey, which was commissioned by business ISP Lumison, follows hot on the heels of last night's Horizon programme on BBC Two, which highlighted the potential horror of a modern-day influenza pandemic.
Aydin Kurt-Elli, Lumison's CEO says, "Approximately 50 million people world-wide died during the last flu pandemic in 1918. Higher levels of global travel and movement nowadays mean that the flu virus has much greater potential to spread, and on a massive scale. The estimate is that hundreds of millions of people could be infected, and potentially die, if a pandemic was to break out today.
"Companies need a policy and procedures in place to explicitly mitigate against the social, economic and political effects of a pandemic. And given our reliance on telcos and banks, it is vital that these large suppliers of critical services can maintain an uninterrupted service to UK businesses."
On the positive side, 33 per cent of the organisations questioned said they are currently looking at the issue, but do not have a published plan. Lumison says that while large enterprises are most likely to have a contingency plan in place, SMEs do not always have the resources to focus on long-term planning and could be exposed to a higher risk in the event of a pandemic. The company has advised its 3,000 customers of ten key factors to take into account when drawing up a business continuity plan:
1.In the event of an outbreak, avoid all non-essential contact and travel, regardless of scheduled work activities and ask staff to work from home 2.Ensure you have hot-desking features built into your PBX so that hunt groups, direct dial and voicemail can support remote workers if necessary 3.If people have to work from your premises, avoid contact as shift rotations to minimise the risk of spreading infection 4.Ensure a supply of fresh gloves and face masks are available for on site workers 5.Agree operational expectations with your key suppliers in advance if possible, or if not, as soon as an outbreak occurs. 6.Accept deliveries only on an as-needed basis and with minimal contact 7.Make sure you have any necessary signage in place to highlight your deliveries policy 8.Most cold and flu viruses are spread by direct contact. The germs can live on surfaces for hours - in some cases weeks - only to be picked up by the next person who touches the same object. So ensure your employees wash their hands often 9.Once the pandemic is over, a deep clean of the offices and facilities using suitable protection (gloves and masks) will be necessary 10.Finally make sure your telcos and IT providers have a contingency plan in place and check your service agreement well in advance of an emergency
Aydin Kurt-Elli concludes: "Through the provision of a communications infrastructure and enabling services such as VPNs and Voice Over IP, telcos and ISPs will provide the backbone for the economy if a remote working policy is widely enforced. It is therefore vital that companies like Lumison take the lead by preparing a policy to help diminish the effects of a pandemic on UK business."
About Lumison www.lumison.net Lumison provides reliable and cost effective Internet access and hosting solutions to SMEs and large corporations across the UK. Lumison is one of a few Business-class ISPs in the UK to own and manage its own data centre facility, providing high quality network, co-location and web hosting services.
Methodology Lumison commissioned a survey of a representative sample of business critical suppliers in September 2006, including telcos, banks and logistics suppliers, in accordance with the company's own business continuity planning.