As the NZ Govt boosts powers to control swine flu our national conversation about its implications is beginning to get some reality into it. From the same story:
Schools are concerned that they have not been given enough information to advise parents of the wider effect of closing to prevent the spread of swine flu.I just finished talking with a colleague who worked with the Ministry of Social development when they ran a pandemic simulation and their main problem is how to feed people who are disadvantaged, by health, social or employment status or just plain poverty when they can't set aside enough food for a week, let alone a month or more.
The ministry has told schools to be prepared for sudden closures that could last several weeks, and to talk to parents about remote learning.
But schools say they have not been advised how families could manage if their child was quarantined.
Rangitoto College principal David Hodge said he learned how disruptive quarantine was when 22 students and three staff and their families were placed in isolation after going on the school's Spanish language trip to Mexico.
Closing Rangitoto - a college of 3100 students in Mairangi Bay, North Shore City - could put the whole community in turmoil.
[...] Gladstone Primary principal Dave Shadbolt sent the pandemic plan of his Mt Albert school to parents yesterday.
Most of the advice was about general hygiene, he said, and staff were reminding students about hand-washing routines and covering mouths and noses when they sneezed.
Mr Shadbolt said he assumed families in which both parents worked would have to organise care if the school closed.
The manager of occupational health and safety for the Employers and Manufacturers Association Northern, Paul Jarvie, said the effect of widespread quarantine caused by swine flu would compound on the impact of the recession, especially for workplaces already operating with skeleton crews.
The greatest cost to companies would mostly be loss of productivity, because if an employee had used up annual sick and holiday leave entitlements, an employer did not legally have to pay them.
The national commissioner of Work and Income, Liz Jones, said: "People facing difficulties in special circumstances such as an outbreak of [swine flu] may be eligible for assistance if they do not have access to other resources or support."
The simulation happened a couple of years ago, but only now is it leaking out into the public domain; pretty much too late as usual.
Had a call from the Aussie ABC Radio yesterday to talk about a Japanese idea for managing infectious disease. I'll post the audio as soon as I can