Influenza :: New Zealand Government tests pandemic action plan

A nationwide test of the Government?s plans to respond to an influenza pandemic is being held this month.

Exercise Cruickshank will be one of the biggest exercises staged by the New Zealand government and plans to test every phase of the response to an influenza pandemic as set out in the New Zealand Influenza Pandemic Action Plan (NZIPAP).

Led by the Ministry of Health, the four day simulation of an influenza pandemic will involve more than 30 government agencies and all 21 district health boards and their public health services.

Beginning on May 10, the government and health agencies will spend a day of the exercise attempting to ?keep it out? of New Zealand after being notified overnight that a significant trading and tourism partner has had influenza cases in its cities for a short time.

The scenario then takes a six to eight week time jump and on May 16 New Zealand health authorities find cases of pandemic influenza in the community and move to the ?stamp it out? phase of the plan. On May 17, a further six to eight weeks have elapsed and New Zealand is in the middle of a pandemic and in the ?manage it? phase.

Day four will be a discussion exercise of the NZIPAP recovery phase, which will occur on May 23 for the regions May 30 for central government agencies.

National Pandemic Planning Coordinator Steve Brazier said each day will begin with the screening of a news format style DVD aimed to focus participants? attention on the scenario.

?We want to exercise the plans to the fullest extent possible as our ability to work across government agencies and the health sector is essential if we are to cope at all with an influenza pandemic.

?Day one will entail a mixture of table top exercises and actual deployment at most of our international air and sea ports. Days two and three will involve table top exercises where the plans will be practiced as realistically as possible without disrupting the health system or the normal business of government agencies,? Mr Brazier said.

Exercise Cruickshank will test New Zealand?s border control measures, quarantine and hospital plans, disease containment, deployment of antiviral drugs and the establishment of Community Based Assessment Centres (CBACs) which would assess and treat people with pandemic influenza. It will also identify and document roles and functions that will need to be addressed when recovering from an influenza pandemic.

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