For the first time since the advent of the rating system, the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the pandemic alert phase to Phase 5.

According to the WHO, Phase 5 is characterized by “widespread human infection” and is described as a “strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short.”

With worldwide travel significantly more common than it was in 1968, the date of the last worldwide influenza pandemic, this pandemic may spread across the globe more quickly than ever before.  However, as the WHO’s director-general pointed out, the world is more prepared for a flu pandemic than ever before due to medical technology and rapid electronic communication so that more information is readily available about the pandemic situation.

In the last two days, GraVoc has made an attempt to reach out to customers and the public to alert them about taking appropriate measures in accordance to pandemic event response policies.  With the alert level raised to Phase 5, the urgency of pandemic planning becomes more critical.

Organizations must plan very quickly how to cope with public fear, how to assist customers prevent the spread of influenza by offering services and products in locations, and means of communication without face-to-face contact.  Plans should be in place for communication with public officials, service providers, the media, employees, and customers so that business can continue interrupted despite a crisis that could result in a significant economic impact.

Furthermore, organizations should be in the process of finalizing their pandemic response plans, because the threats are no longer theoretical, but very real.  Avenues should be in place for immediate activation of a pandemic response procedure, and organizations should consider the costs and benefits of whether the procedures should indeed be activated.

GraVoc Associates, Inc, based in Peabody, MA, has substantial experience in helping organizations design business continuity and pandemic event response planning.  In this time of crisis, we are frequently updating the GraVoc News Blog ( as we aim to help.  If you would like further assistance in preventing business disruption in the event of a disaster or a pandemic event, we strongly encourage you to contact GraVoc’s information security team at 978-538-9055.  We are committed to helping our customers’ bottom lines, and making sure businesses continue their processes as normally as possible is a crucial part of enhancing long-term profitability.

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