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Steve Chiotakis: You probably heard the news over the past few days: the World Health Organization has designated swine flu as a global pandemic. Drugmakers are gearing up for large-scale vaccine production, and businesses are being urged to review their procedures for dealing with an outbreak that could affect them. Here’s Marketplace senior business correspondent Bob Moon.s
Bob Moon: When World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan made the pandemic official at the end of last week, she offered some encouraging words:
Margaret Chan: We are all in this together, and we will all get through this together.
But togetherness might not be such a good idea if the flu starts spreading through the workplace. Gartner is telling its clients to prepare for steps that could help isolate the virus.
Rick Delotto is a Gartner analyst:
Rick Delotto: In many cases, companies can arrange it so that their key employees, and maybe even more than key employees, have the ability to work from home.
Two years ago, the financial services industry ran a simulation of a severe flu pandemic. It found many small and medium businesses would be more likely to try distancing employees with staggered workshifts or by separating personal workspaces.
For now, though, Delotto says businesses should be stressing personal hygiene:
Delotto: Be prepared to answer questions from your staff. People are hearing “pandemic” for real now, and they think that suddenly there’s going to be a wave of sickness tomorrow. Bring the facts in — the facts will generally bore people and they’ll get back to work.
He points out “pandemic” merely means the virus is spreading — not becoming more severe.
I’m Bob Moon for Marketplace.
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