(CIDRAP Business Source Osterholm Briefing) – No, the World Health Organization (WHO) has not declared the novel H1N1 (swine) influenza outbreak a pandemic. It should. And it may. But your next steps need not depend on the WHO raising the pandemic alert level to phase 6. In fact, they shouldn’t depend on it.What matters most at this moment is not the number of the phase, but how we respond to the real (and perceived) threat of this genuine influenza pandemic.Going globalThe fact that the virus is causing “sustained community-level outbreaks” in Japan, a country in “another WHO region” means the outbreak has reached the global threshold that qualifies it as a pandemic. That’s according to the very measure the WHO set forth in its latest iteration of alert phases. But, unfortunately, science isn’t guiding the agency’s decision at the moment.I have a feeling that may change very shortly as “influenza scientists” around the world are becoming increasingly vocal in their conclusion; we have an influenza pandemic with the new H1N1 virus. Fortunately it is primarily a mild illness for most of those infected, but we all know that could change with a single virus mutation.The agency is under pressure to incorporate severity level into its decision, to account for the “mild” nature of the current outbreak before calling a full-blown pandemic that could trigger what some worry would be risky and costly actions.But the phases have always been about how well the novel influenza virus passes between people, never how sick it makes them. Mild, moderate, or worse, severity is not part of what defines a pandemic. Maybe it should be. Maybe it can be. But for now, it isn’t. And I’d much prefer that WHO preserve its credibility and stick to science and avert confusion.Whether the WHO raises the alert level to phase 6 shouldn’t have much impact on business, but it might.Much depends on how governments react, particularly the governments of Asia. A misinterpretation of the phases means trouble. Such actions as closing borders, quarantining passengers, and screening people at airports are totally unnecessary, bad for business, and likely to worsen problems. Without taking extreme measures, there’s simply no containing or even dampening the transmission of this virus anymore. Close a border, and people will still find a way in. Same for an influenza virus. Imagine having 11 screen doors on a submarine and closing only 10; you’re still going to sink.Swimming with the sharks?The bottom line is that we have what amounts to a pandemic on our hands, and companies need to adjust accordingly. Our attention must be on its impact on the health of the population. And right now the impact is limited. So here’s what I suggest:1. Be ready for a mixed bag of reactions. If you’re an international company, you’ll likely see great variability in responses from different countries. The novel virus is acting much like a seasonal strain of influenza, and it’s causing what could be considered a “mild” pandemic right now. But how countries and others react may not be proportionate to the severity of the pandemic. Are you ready if borders close in Asia?Also, be mindful that your organization’s pandemic plan may have action steps such as “no travel” or “mandatory work from home” policies that are triggered with a WHO phase 6 declaration. Now is the time to reconsider these actions in light of the mild illness spectrum. They can always be reinstated if the disease picture suddenly worsens.2. Stay tuned. Is this a mild first wave? Will the pandemic fizzle out and be gone for good? Will the virus keep spreading—and mutate into a strain that could become moderate or severe? It’s anyone’s guess at the moment. But investigators are finding new pieces of the puzzle almost daily, and the CIDRAP Business Source team is monitoring the science closely. You’ll be the first to know what we know. You have my word on that.3. Take advantage of the gift of this wake-up call. We certainly don’t want to scare anyone into becoming more prepared, but this “grace period” (to quote WHO Director-General Margaret Chan) is an opportunity to make your case for more attention to preparedness. What we’re seeing right now is akin to a seasonal influenza of moderate severity, which certainly is worthy of note by any business, and that could change on a dime. What would a year of severe seasonal influenza do to your business?Bottom line for businessThe pandemic threat to your business is far from over. Count on us for the intelligence you need to calibrate your company’s response responsibly.
7 Knightsbridge Pde West, Sovereign Islands is on the market for $7.2 million.AN award-winning mansion belonging to a high-profile equestrian couple on Sovereign Islands has hit the market for $7.2 million.Property records show the four-bedroom, five-bathroom house named Santosha — Sanskrit for contenment — was bought by Ken Dowsett and Linda Spratley for $5.1 million in late 2015. The bedrooms boast luxury ensuites. There is a dedicated theatre room.The couple had previously built an ultra-modern homestead on a dressage and equine estate on 2.57 hectares at Mudgeeraba — the property was described as a hidden valley guarded by gates, flanked by two black stallions. The residence features stunning water views.The waterfront mansion features a cinema, cellar, library, wet bar and pool.There are 24 properties currently on the market along Knightsbridge Parade. Designer bathrooms with automatic lighting and dual rain head showers. More from news02:37Purchasers snap up every residence in the $40 million Siarn Palm Beach Northless than 1 hour ago02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa20 hours agoThe home has an interior water feature.
WASHINGTON — Leaders of water-inundated towns in southwest Iowa are blaming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for blundering decisions that may have contributed to the region’s widespread flooding.Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he “absolutely” will call for an inquiry into the Corps’ actions, like ordering the town of Hamburg to remove reinforcements from a levee which protected the town in the 2011 floods. “When a town was trying to help themselves and then have to take protection down and then get flooded like they have now, where it’s probably worse than it was in 2011,” Grassley says, “we have to have a complete review of the manual that governs all that.”The Corps is also being criticized for having radically boosted releases recently from Gavins Point Dam upriver on the Missouri River and for now vowing to cut back the flow when the damage is already done. Critics say it’s far too little, too late.”Now that this flooding is taking place, to have the Corps say that some of the dams, that they’re going to shut down releases right now as the flooding is happening, not being on top of it ahead of time, trying to anticipate things,” Grassley says. “It’s ridiculous.”Defenders of the Corps’ actions say it was the perfect storm of conditions that brought the unstoppable flooding, with frozen soil, a deep snowpack that melted quickly, and heavy rain showers. Grassley disagrees and says the Corps’ should have known better.”Anticipating weather ahead of time, they just didn’t take that into consideration,” Grassley says. “The tremendous rain and storms they recently had in Nebraska is a perfect example of being out in front of it instead of always being behind the curve.”Grassley says the Corps’ river management priority list includes several elements, like maintaining water levels for commercial and recreational boating, when he says the number-one concern should be flood prevention.