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Preparation and Mitigation

Just as the spread of a pandemic will occur in phases, so should business operations be organized to respond in phases. At the height of the SARS outbreak, a global web survey was conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting over a two-week period in late April 2003. This survey revealed a pattern of behavior for businesses responding to the SARS threat. Four distinct stages in these responses were identified:

  1. Minimize exposure
  2. Change what people do
  3. Escalate actions
  4. Take large-scale action

The pattern was found to be consistent worldwide. The report (SARS: diagnosing the business impact and prescribing an effective response) describes these findings at a high level and provides a simple framework that can be applied now in light of the Avian Flu threat. This framework should be integrated into the usual business continuity and disaster recovery planning for your organization, and this planning should begin now if it hasn't already.

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