While Japan's government has been fairly proactive in their pandemic preparations, including the acquisition of 20 million doses of pre-pandemic vaccine, little progress has been made in their private sector.
Earlier this month we saw a survey that showed a surprising lack of pandemic preparation in that nation's business sector.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
A majority of listed companies surveyed have devised no countermeasures for a new type of influenza that some fear may develop, a think tank survey showed Wednesday.
According to the InterRisk Research Institute & Consulting Inc. survey, 52 percent of 448 firms surveyed said they have no plans to work out measures against a possible new influenza pandemic for which people have little immunity.
In a move that hopefully will spur the private sector into action, the Japanese government has now released their own pandemic assumptions, along with a call for businesses to prepare.
The pandemic scenario envisioned by the Japanese government closely matches the United States, and some European nation's, pandemic assumptions.
Roughly 40% absenteeism, an attack rate of 25%, and a CFR (case fatality ratio) of 2%.
Of course U.S. officials are quick to point out that while this would be a severe scenario, comparable to the 1918 Spanish Flu, it isn't the worst-case scenario.
This from the Yomiuri Shimbun. (Highlighting is mine)
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry estimates that up to about 40 percent of the workforce would be forced to stay home in the event of an influenza pandemic.
The ministry estimates that the pandemic also could cause social and economic problems, such as medicine shortages and power outages.
For the first time, the ministry released estimates of problems that could be caused by a flu pandemic, hoping companies and other organizations would draw up preparatory measures.
The ministry also released a revised outline of suggested actions for companies in case of an outbreak.
Estimates were based on the human suffering figures in government's pandemic relief action plan--revised in October. The plan estimates 25 percent of people would suffer from a new influenza pandemic, with a fatality rate of 2 percent.
The ministry used figures mentioned in preparedness plans by countries in Europe and North America to estimate the absentee rate of employees.
According to the ministry's estimates, it would take about two to four weeks before a new strain of influenza virus reached Japan from abroad.
Up to 40 percent of company employees would not be able to come to work for about 10 days because of sickness or caring for sick family members, the ministry estimates.
As a result, business activities would be seriously affected. Power, gasoline and supplies of other necessities would be temporarily stopped, and imports would also be halted. Companies would have difficulty raising funds and settling accounts.
The ministry estimates that there are five stages in the development of the pandemic: a pandemic outbreak in foreign countries; the arrival of the virus in Japan; a large outbreak in the country; a pandemic outbreak; and the aftermath of the pandemic.
The ministry categorizes likely ill effects from a pandemic into 11 social fields, such as public transportation and medical services.
In the event of a pandemic influenza outbreak, the ministry would call on companies to temporarily scale down nonessential business activities to prevent the spread of infection.
(Jul. 31, 2008)