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Firms ill-prepared for bird flu pandemic

Published on 16/01/2006

16 January 2006

BRUSSELS — A quick survey of Belgian firms has indicated they do not have action plans on how to cope with a bird flu pandemic.

Employers association VBO said it will discuss the risks of bird flu with its members in the near future, newspaper ‘De Tijd’ reported on Monday.

Some 80 percent of British firms have already drawn up plans on how to cope with a bird flu pandemic.

British firms have based their plans on estimates that 25 percent of the population could be affected by an outbreak of bird flu among humans.

Firms such as Tesco, the British Post, Ford, Natwest and mobile phone operator O2 have plans in which staff could work at home. They could also relocate management abroad.

Belgian employers association VBO said the issue of bird flu has been raised, but will be discussed in greater detail at a company security meeting in the coming period.

Meanwhile, the poultry sector said on Monday it is prepared for a possible outbreak of the bird flu virus in Belgium.

The sector has drawn up emergency response guidelines, adding to those drawn up by the Federal Food Agency, newspaper ‘Het Gazet van Antwerpen’ reported.

The guidelines include possible scenarios, preventative measures and solutions, however the Farmers’ Union admitted it is impossible to prepare for a pandemic.

In other news, Health Minister Rudy Demotte plans to stage a large-scale pandemic simulation exercise in coming weeks to prepare authorities for a disaster scenario.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news