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Pandemic could restrict transporation severely, experts warn

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Transportation Restrictions


13 March 2006


Pandemic Could Restrict Transportation Severely, Experts Warn


Disaster plans should cover alternatives for inventory, securing shipments


This information was compiled by the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs from various online sources and from presentations made at a February conference, held in Minnesota, on business planning for a pandemic.


Bird flu (avian influenza) is considered by scientists and health professionals a likely source of the next human influenza pandemic.


The following fact sheet applies to planning for pandemic influenza generally:



U.S. Department of State

Bureau of International Information Programs

Washington, D.C.

March 13, 2006






If a pandemic occurs, the movement of goods and the travel of people throughout the world could be restricted severely to keep the disease contained. National or regional borders might have to close, and shortages of fuel likely would occur and major bottlenecks in the flow of many goods would arise.


Contingency planning can help minimize disruptions and enhance the adequate movement of raw materials and products to sustain business operations.




A task force representing wholesale and retail food suppliers developed the following recommendations for planning for potential transportation disruptions as a result of a pandemic.


·Identify basic items before a pandemic occurs and obtain additional supplies of those goods for emergency storage;


·Increase security for warehouses and vehicles used to transport goods.


·Develop emergency guidelines for shipment check-in and receiving procedures to minimize contact between dockworkers, drivers and warehouse personnel.


·Develop plans to minimize effects of potential fuel shortages, and consolidate delivery routes to reduce the number of trips needed.


·Ensure that there are enough spare parts on hand to repair essential machinery.


·Consider that consumers might avoid products made outside the country where they live and identify alternative domestic sources.


·Consider alternative supply pickup locations because some locations might be more severely affected by an influenza outbreak than others.


·Develop human-resource policies to address worker's refusal to work in certain geographic areas.


·Consider dedicating some company vehicles to deliver food, medicine and fuel to employees unable to come to work due to their own illnesses or those of family members.


·Have a plan for transporting critical workers to and from work locations.


·Investigate providing secure housing for critical employees who prefer to stay away from their families for disease containment reasons.


·Ensure your waste management system has adequate capacity to compensate for disruptions in the collection, transport or processing of wastes.


·Reach agreement with other distributors and vendors to keep the supply chain functioning.


·Develop relationships with government and community groups that might need your surplus products if you are unable to make your normal deliveries.




The Department of Homeland Security recommends that individuals consider ways to rely less on public transportation during a pandemic.


Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends that people:


·Store food and other essential supplies so you fewer shopping trips are needed;


·Work from home if possible; and


·Prepare plans to take care of loved ones far away.




Additional information on transportation-related challenges posed by a pandemic and how to deal with those challenges are available from:


·Food Industry QRT Pandemic analysis (PDF, 19 pages),


·U.S. Government Site for Individual and Family Planning for a Pandemic, and


·World Health Organization



(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)


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