By Linda McGlasson
April 29, 2009
The Swine Flu, if unchecked, could prove to be the pandemic that
industry experts have warned about, and so financial regulators and
institutions are preparing for the worst.
This new outbreak, which began in Mexico and has now spread to the US,
Canada, several South American countries and parts of Europe and Asia,
has led governments, including the U.S. to declare a state of emergency.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday changed its pandemic alert
level to Phase 4 for the first time, which means the transmission of the
Swine Flu has now reached sustained, human to human transmission.
Pandemic status begins at Phase 5.
"All institutions should have contingency plans," says David Barr,
spokesperson for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Indeed, regulators have been closely watching the developments of
pandemic planning by banking institutions, and issued two interagency
advisories (Advisory 1 ; Advisory 2 ) on a pandemic flu situation.
The industry has prepared for such an event since 2006, says business
continuity planning expert Dana Turner. "The question is: Are we ready?
The answer is no. I think we're more aware -- there have only been
tests, including the national industry desktop exercise held in the fall
of 2007," Turner says. "But now we're facing the possibility of having a
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