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Infectious disease and pandemics

A pandemic can occur at any time and happens when a new virus spreads easily from person to person. It can vary in its severity and impact, causing anything from mild symptoms through to severe health issues.

Pandemics can affect millions of people around the world, causing global disruption and impacting on the provision of services, utilities, production and transportation of goods. Health and social care systems will become extremely stretched and potentially overloaded.

You can reduce the risks to yourself and others by observing good basic hygiene:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser if soap and water aren’t available.
  • Clean hard surfaces such as worktops, door handles and handrails frequently.
  • If you are infectious, avoid unnecessary contact with other people.
  • Make sure you and your family are up to date with available recommended vaccinations.

The partners within West Yorkshire Prepared have tried and tested plans in place to respond collectively to health pandemics and all agencies work closely with Public Health England (PHE) and the NHS to support any measures required.

We work together on:

  • Plans to manage demand for NHS and social care services
  • Plans to distribute anti-viral medication to the public should it be required, and implement vaccination programmes once a suitable vaccine has been developed
  • Public awareness campaigns to help reduce the spread of flu viruses
  • Plans to manage a potential increase in the number of deaths
  • Providing advice to local businesses about the impact a pandemic could cause (eg severe staff shortages)

More information can be found at:

Public Health England (www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england)

NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Pandemic Influenza – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources)

Top Tips

  • Be aware of contingency arrangements at your children’s schools
  • Follow the guidance and advice from the NHS and Local Authority, and monitor local media for up to date advice
  • If you own your own business, have a contingency plan in place for high levels of staff absence in case of a pandemic.

For details and advice specific to COVID-19, please see our dedicated page.