The Challenge of the New Age
Edited by David H. McIntyre and William I. Hancock
Caveats and conclusions
In April 2009, a unique influenza virus invoked a course of disease that spread from Mexico to the United States, thereafter swiftly advancing across the globe. On 11 June, the World Health Organization declared the novel A/H1N1 the first pandemic of the twenty-first century and raised its alert to Level 6.1 By the end of the summer, it was projected that there would be a 3–5 percent negative impact on the global GDP, especially affecting the tourism, hospitality and retail sectors.2 This was not the pandemic for which the world had been waiting or preparing for. Unlike the much-anticipated H5N1 ‘bird flu’, the H1N1 ‘swine flu’ was characterized by effective person-to-person transmission (H5N1 has thus far remained avian-to-human spread),3 disproportionately affected young children and pregnant women,4 and only resulted in a case fatality rate between 0.3–1.8 percent (unlike the case fatality rate for H5N1 which stands at 59 percent).5 Irrespective of origin or alphanumeric code, the threat to ‘business as usual’ was soon recognized. Both large and small businesses took rapid steps to protect their workforce and assure continuity of operations, gleaning information from testimony6 and sectorand industry-wide guidance documents and fact sheets generated by government and non-government agencies.7 Newly hung posters reminded workers to cough into their sleeve, and desk-top and wall-mounted antiseptic hand-wash devices were installed in conference rooms and hallways.8 The potential disruption to business was ominous. The Harvard School of Public Health found that only one-third of the national businesses surveyed...
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