Pandemic drill for financial sector finds planning gaps

first_img School closings as a community mitigation tactic during a pandemic would significantly or moderately affect about 72% of participating financial institutions. Nearly 99% of respondents thought the exercise was useful for assessing pandemic preparedness. Oct 26, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – The US Department of the Treasury this week announced the results of a recent exercise to test the resiliency of the nation’s financial services sector in an influenza pandemic, revealing that few firms were well prepared and most needed to improve their all-hazards plans. The simulation began with the World Health Organization announcing that human-to-human cases of H5N1 avian influenza had been reported in five major US cities, probably because of infected travelers arriving from Lagos, Nigeria. Most (91%) said they would refine their business continuity plans on the basis of what they learned from the exercise. As the simulated outbreak spread across the country, companies were asked a series of preparedness questions on topics such as predicted absenteeism, the status of human resources plans for a pandemic, and plans for educating employees. Questions specifically relating to financial operations, for example, included detailed questions about predicted automatic teller machine (ATM) availability and how the companies would respond if daily security trading hours were shortened. At the end of the exercise, the groups were asked how effective their business continuity plans were. Nearly 12% said their plans were very effective, 56% reported they were moderately effective, 28% rated them as minimally effective, and 4% said the plans were “not at all” effective. As the planners analyze more of the exercise data in the coming months, they will release more detailed information on the pandemic’s impact and the industry’s response, officials said. Of the participating organizations, 64% reported they had a business continuity plan for use in a pandemic, but only 42% said they had human resources policies in place to respond to employees’ needs during a pandemic.center_img Among other findings, Treasury Department officials learned that: Establishing a telecommuting system and dividing and dispersing work units were the two most common steps companies said they would take to maintain business operations during a pandemic. In May 2006 the White House directed the Treasury Department to work with banking and financial services companies to boost their pandemic preparedness, according to an Oct 24 department press release. As the exercise progressed, the companies responded to fluctuating market indicators and varying absenteeism rates. At the peak of the pandemic, the exercise simulated a 49% absenteeism rate. The last phase of the exercise centered on the nation’s recovery from a pandemic, with preparation for a possible next wave of illnesses. “The strong public-private coordination on this exercise allowed us to reach more institutions than we ever expected,” said Valerie Abend, the department’s assistant secretary for critical infrastructure protection, in a press release. “And by allowing almost all participants to find critical gaps in their planning, this exercise was an unquestionable success in helping the industry prepare for such a crisis.” As the pandemic progressed, the exercise described emerging impacts on supply chains, worker absentee rates, healthcare systems, schools, transportation, financial market indicators, and market reactions. The Treasury Department said 2,775 organizations registered for the exercise; 65% were banks and credit unions, 23% security firms, 11% insurance companies, and 4% other groups (utilities, industry associations, and regulators). The exercise was conducted Sep 24 through Oct 12 and consisted of an online program of weekly scenarios and preparedness questions. The exercise was organized by two Treasury divisions: the Financial Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC) and the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council (FSSCC).last_img read more


Consultation Open for Lincolnshire Coastal Strategy

first_imgThe Environment Agency (EA) is launching a consultation on Monday, June 3rd on its new draft strategy to manage coastal flood risk between Saltfleet and Gibraltar Point over the next 100 years.The EA’s existing flood management approach for the Lincolnshire area is to nourish beaches on an annual basis to replenish sand lost to the sea over the year.This approach, without any additional control measures, is unlikely to remain a sustainable long term solution, reported the EA. This consultation provides residents, business owners and other stakeholders with an opportunity to give their views on the new strategy.The draft strategy proposes a new approach, which looks to introduce rock structures onto the beach in combination with continued beach nourishment to reduce sand movement.The configuration and exact size of the structures will be determined through detailed analysis and technical appraisals during the delivery phase of the strategy.Commenting on the new draft strategy, EA Flood and Coastal Risk manager Deborah Campbell said: “This draft strategy proposes a new approach to coastal flood risk management, which will help us continue to manage flood risk for thousands of homes in Lincolnshire over the next 100 years.”“Last year we consulted with the community on a shortlist of six options. We are very pleased to now present this strategy following rigorous environmental, technical and economical assessments as well as wide engagement with residents and other stakeholders,” Campbell added.This public consultation is open for a twelve-week period and the EA invites everyone to get involved and share their views.last_img read more


WHO ‘increasingly worried about Zika’

first_imgHealthInternationalLifestylePrint WHO ‘increasingly worried about Zika’ by: (Belfast Telegraph) – May 17, 2016 Share Tweet Share 70 Views   no discussionscenter_img Sharing is caring! A health worker sprays insecticide to combat the mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus in Brazil (AP)(Belfast Telegraph) The World Health Organisation is increasingly concerned about the Zika virus but does not recommend cancelling or postponing the Olympic Games in Brazil this summer.The organisation’s director general, Dr Margaret Chan, said: “The more we learn about Zika, the more worried we get about it.”But she added that she would be going to the Games in Rio de Janeiro herself.Ms Chan noted that although Zika has been around for decades, it is only recently that the virus has been proven to cause severe birth defects and neurological problems – including in newborn children.She reiterated the UN health agency’s advice that pregnant women should not travel to Brazil, which has by far the biggest number of Zika cases.She said the agency was recommending that both Olympic athletes and travellers to Rio take measures to prevent being bitten by the mosquitoes that spread Zika. But she did not see a reason why the Olympics – which are expected to draw about 500,000 people to Brazil – should be moved.She said: “You don’t want to bring a standstill to the world’s movement of people. This is all about risk assessment and risk management.”Ms Chan said she agreed with the WHO’s Zika response chief Bruce Aylward, who said earlier this year that Rio will host a “fantastic” Games.In February, WHO declared the explosive outbreak of Zika to be a global health emergency and the virus has now spread to nearly 60 countries.The agency is constantly monitoring its evolution, and could change its advice to travellers depending on how Zika progresses, according to WHO officials.Some experts have called for this year’s Olympics, which run from August 5-21, to be moved or delayed to prevent the avoidable birth of brain-damaged babies. They also warn that the Rio Olympics could spark new Zika outbreaks in other countries and speed up the virus’s international spread.Ms Chan said Olympic athletes were getting advice from their national medical advisers, singling out Australia as one country that has issued “very positive” guidelines to its Olympics team. Other countries are taking measures such as providing protective clothing, window screens and air conditioning “to minimize the risk”, she said.Australia’s medical director for the Olympic team said last week that the risk of Zika to athletes was “minimal” and that the last people he had spoken to who had been to Rio recently had not even seen a mosquito.Ms Chan was speaking ahead of next week’s World Health Assembly, a crucial WHO annual event that draws more than 3,500 delegates and address six dozen topics – including resistance to antimicrobial drugs, a global shortage of medicines and vaccines and maternal health.Despite Ms Chan’s concern about the Zika outbreak, not a single session at next week’s meeting is focused on the virus, even though Zika is expected to come up in a number of discussions at the assembly. Sharelast_img read more


Syracuse men’s basketball game day: What to know about N.C. State matchup

first_img Published on February 1, 2017 at 7:03 am Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds Syracuse (13-9, 5-4 Atlantic Coast) travels to Raleigh to take on North Carolina State (14-8, 3-6) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Orange is 5-2 against conference opponents outside the Top 25 but has yet to win a game outside of the Carrier Dome this season.Here are answers to your most pressing game day questions.How can you watch the game? Syracuse-N.C. State will air on ESPN2. Here are channel listings based on provider.• Time Warner: 301 and 25 for non-digital subscribers• Verizon Fios: 574 (high-definition) and 74 (standard-definition)• DirecTV: 209• Dish Network: 144• New Visions: 760 (high-definition) and 74 (standard-definition)How can Tyler Lydon contribute without scoring? In nearly every other facet of the game. He can still be Syracuse’s best player even when he doesn’t fill up the scoring column.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHow has Andrew White improved throughout this season? His defense has gotten a lot better recently.What did Jim Boeheim and Mark Gottfried say before the matchup? Take a look at recaps of the two coaches’ appearances on the ACC teleconference. (Boeheim, Gottfried)What do our beat writers think will happen? Check out their picks, here.Anything else to know about the Wolfpack? Here’s a preview of N.C. State. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more