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Survey: How Big Business is responding to the Influenza A H1N1 outbreak (6/1)

June 1, 2009
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From April 30 through May 6, ORC Worldwide collected information related to business response to the spread of the Influenza A H1N1 virus on behalf of the members of the ORC Networks community.

Key findings relating to business travel:
  • Approximately 55 percent of responding companies implemented some changes to business travel practices as a result of the recent outbreak. These changes included banning all nonessential travel, banning all nonessential travel to affected areas, requiring higher level approval for travel to various locations, and specific restrictions related to travel to Mexico. It is worth noting that another 16 percent had already banned nonessential travel prior to the H1N1 outbreak due to economic conditions.
  • It is most prevalent for companies to base decisions on implementing business travel restrictions and escalations within their pandemic preparedness/business continuity plans on a number of sources including but not limited to CDC, WHO, and EU Health Commissioner in addition to reports of human-to-human transmission in a location and report of associated deaths.
  • While some companies reported having provided various supplies to business travelers such as hand sanitizers (34 percent) and/or surgical masks (23 percent), the most common action has been to provide communication in the form of a company contact number for medical advice while on business travel (55 percent) and/or additional briefings or medical advice (39 percent).

Post-travel-related actions
  • Only 37 percent of the companies had implemented mandatory quarantine periods following travel to locations with confirmed cases of H1N1 virus with 58 percent of the respondents reporting that these quarantine periods are from five to 10 days in length.
  • The employees were not paid for the mandatory quarantine period in less than three percent of the responding companies.
  • Of those companies reporting mandatory quarantine periods, slightly less than half (43.9 percent) allow employees to return to work without any medical screening.

Infection control and health protection
  • 84 percent of the companies responding report having some type of business continuity or pandemic preparedness plan to handle global outbreaks of this nature.
  • Fewer than one-third of the respondents reported currently engaging in employee screening, with slightly fewer currently engaging in some type of screening of visitors or contractors.
  • Less than ten percent of the companies responding report handling packages from affected areas in a different fashion than packages from non-affected areas.
  • Fewer than half of the respondents report having established (or being in the process of establishing) communications with the local government health departments in the locations in which they have facilities.

Expatriate evacuation
  • Only three of responding companies had already evacuated expatriates and families from affected locations.
  • Less than ten percent of the companies report allowances being suspended for periods of mandatory evacuation from expatriated locations.
  • More than half of the respondents report handling on a case-by-case basis situations in which the company decides NOT to evacuate and the expatriate requests to leave.

Other points
  • Nearly 82 percent of companies responding indicated that they would be interested in networking with other companies on this issue.
  • Nearly 75 percent of the respondents would be willing to share company policies and procedures anonymously with other companies who were also willing to share.

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