Firms ready for swine flu epidemic

A number of Dutch companies have already taken steps to protect key staff against swine flu, now person to person infections in the Netherlands are taking place, the AD reports on Tuesday.

Heath and safety advisory group Arbo Unie has begun giving company doctors training in recognising the symptoms and surgical mask maker 3M reports that dozens of companies are upping their hygiene levels, the paper says.
The government has a plan ready if swine flu takes off in the Netherlands. ‘But that only relates to the population at large. Companies have to take care of themselves,’ Arbo Unie epidemologist Jaap Maas told the paper.
Key staff
Pharmaceuticals company Roche has a list of key staff who have to take virus inhibitor Tamiflu if the disease spreads widely in the Netherlands.
‘We provide life-saving cancer medicines… and production cannot stop,’ a spokesman said.
Energy company Essent has also introduced new hygiene rules. ‘We have tissues, masks and gloves at the ready and we are asking staff to wash their hands, at work and at home,’ said a spokesman.
School children
By Monday afternoon, 61 cases of swine flu had been identified in the Netherlands. One person is seriously ill but stable. Two cases have been found among young school-going children.
Jim van Steenbergen, head of the infectious diseases unit at the public health institute RIVM, says in the Volkskrant that the number of cases will probably go up sharply after the summer holidays.
‘And people will die unexpectedly,’ he said.
Every year, ordinary flu kills between 500 and 800 people in the Netherlands.
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