Influenza Pandemic Could Threaten Critical Infrastructure – Senator Williams


State Minister for National Security, Senator Arthur Williams has noted that preparing for an influenza pandemic requires the leveraging of all instruments of national power, and coordinated action by all segments of Government and society.
“Influenza viruses do not respect distinctions of race, sex, age, profession or nationality, and are not constrained to geographic boundaries,” he pointed out.
Senator Williams, who was addressing the opening ceremony of a influenza pandemic workshop at the University of the West Indies yesterday (Jan. 20), noted that while a pandemic will not damage highways, or power lines or computer networks, it will threaten all critical infrastructures by removing essential personnel from the workplace for weeks or months.
“This makes a pandemic a unique circumstance necessitating a strategy that extends well beyond the obvious health and medical issues, to include how we sustain our critical infrastructure, private sector activities, the movement of goods and services across the globe and how we deal with economic and security considerations,” he said.
Senator Williams noted that the possibility of an influenza pandemic is a daunting challenge presented by nature, which will require a national emergency Government response, involving every sector and agency.
A pandemic is an epidemic of an infectious disease that spreads through populations across a large region, for instance a continent, or even worldwide.
The influenza pandemic workshop, which is a collaborative effort among the University of the West Indies, the United States armed and uniformed Services, CARICOM, and the Government, is being held from January 21 to 22 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.
It will also focus on the Caribbean Community sustaining power, sewer, food, water and medical supplies, and other critical infrastructure in an effort to address prevention strategies and economic recovery through an influenza pandemic crisis.

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