Fabian Demicoli

Prevention

 GRTU has closed last week with an information session to food importers on the importance of preparing for the H1N1 Influenza Flu (Swine Flu). A detailed presentation was delivered by a representative from the Ministry for Health.

GRTU has involved its members because we believe that as a small business you are a valuable partner in our country's defence against a treat to health and the economy as the Swine Flu.

 

As we face the possibility of a wider H1N1 influenza outbreak, it is difficult to predict how the virus may or may not change. The Ministry for Health has however informed us that there is the possibility that up till the Christmas season the Swine Flu would have affected 30% of the Maltese population.

The consequences might reach well beyond the health sector and may have an impact on the ability to maintain the continuity of essential service.  The result may be disruptions in the transport systems, essential services, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and food. Crisis preparedness in sectors outside the health sector is a responsibility which is shared amongst different players.

GRTU feels that even you as a small business should plan to be able to respond in a flexible way to varying levels of severity and be prepared to take additional steps if a potentially more serious outbreak of influenza evolves during the fall and winter.

Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and we must therefore together ensure that the wheels of the country's economy continue to turn, even if faced with absenteeism, restricted services, and supply chain disruptions. If prepared, small businesses can keep their doors open and our country's economic health and security resilient.

Members are also encouraged to inspire their employees to prepare their own homes and families, which includes having a plan to care for sick family members and storing a two-week supply of food and medical supplies.

10. Tips for keeping healthy

  Stay home if you are sick with influenza-like illness until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (100° F [37.8° C] or greater) or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications. This would require employees to stay home for 3 to 5 days in most cases.

  Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

  Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.

  Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve. Dispose of tissues in no-touch trash receptacles.

  Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

  Keep frequently touched common surfaces clean. For example, telephones, computer equipment, etc.

  Try not to use other workers' phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment. If necessary, consider cleaning them first with a disinfectant.

  Keep doors and windows open.

  Avoid using fans. Air-conditioning however an be utilise.

  Avoid overcrowding in shops.

Symptoms

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen

Sudden dizziness

Confusion

Severe or persistent vomiting

Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

Fast breathing or trouble breathing

Bluish or gray skin color

Not drinking enough fluids

Severe or persistent vomiting

Not waking up or not interacting

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