Wednesday, July 12, 2006
NYC unveils pandemic preparedness plan
"City unveils a plan to identify, and contain, a flu pandemic" -- The New York Times (07/11/06) Diane Cardwell [link]
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and city health commissioner Thomas R. Frieden this week announced a new plan to address avian influenza preparedness. The plan details the steps for identifying and containing an outbreak and distributing scarce resources such as antiviral medications. "The fact that New York is a major gateway to the nation and one of the world's most densely populated cities means the possibility of pandemic flu, however remote, is one that we must take extremely seriously," said Bloomberg. The plan stresses early detection to help contain the pandemic, so health officials have taken steps to strengthen communication with doctors and to monitor information about ambulance runs, pharmacy sales, and emergency room visits. In the event of an outbreak, in which the city estimates more than 2.5 million New Yorkers could be infected, officials said they would use traditional methods of containing the virus by encouraging certain behaviors among the public. "It's low technology, but it works: covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze; not going out if you have fever and cough. These are very important things people can do to reduce the spread of infection, and if there were a pandemic, they would be our first line of defense," said Frieden.
[Editor's note: To read the New York City Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan, click here.]