Pandemics

Pandemics are epidemics of disease that occur on a worldwide scale and are traditionally caused by infectious diseases such as influenza. 

Although unpredictable in their timing, recent history indicates that influenza pandemics can be expected to occur every 10 to 50 years and it is almost certain they will continue to occur. 

It is this level of certainty, and the fact that almost all humans will be vulnerable, that makes it paramount that planning is carried out at all levels of government. 

The Northern Territory Government's overall strategy for responding to an emerging pandemic is to plan a number of measures to:

  • delay the arrival of the pandemic in Australia
  • contain or slow the spread of the pandemic virus once it reaches Australia including:
    • encouraging social distancing, personal hygiene management strategies.

Impact

An influenza pandemic in Australia could have the following impacts:

  • arise rapidly and spread quickly
  • make people very ill and many will likely die
  • generate unprecedented levels of fear
  • occur in several waves, each lasting for several months
  • require government, business and many community agencies to be involved in a whole-of-society response
  • force the closure of schools, child care centres and public gatherings as a social distancing measure
  • result in healthcare services not being able to provide direct care in some cases
  • result in very high staff absence rates for some periods during the pandemic.

Management plans

For the Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza go to the Australian Government's Department of Health website.

For the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2010) go to the Australian Government's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) website.

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Last updated: 10 January 2017