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Planning and response


Global planning

The World Health Organisation is co-ordinating global efforts to reduce the impact of an influenza pandemic using three strategic approaches.

The following WHO pandemic influenza draft protocol for rapid response and containment provides details of the current planning and strategies:

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Planning in New Zealand

The Ministry of Health is leading planning in this country and has taken a whole of government approach. For more information see:

In summary, a national pandemic action plan has been developed with a five phase strategic approach as shown below:

2.1 Summary of New Zealand Pandemic Planning

Stage MoH Alert Code NZ Strategy Potential Trigger Objective & Action
1 White (Information / advisory) Plan for it (Planning) Interpandemic period

Objective: devise a plan to reduce the health, social and economic impact of a pandemic on New Zealand

Full engagement of whole of government

Consultation with and input from many agencies


Yellow (Standby)



Prepare to implement pandemic response action plans


Red (Activation)

Keep it out (Boarder Management)

Human-to human transmission overseas, OR very high suspicion of human-to-human transmission overseas, OR Australia and/or Singapore close borders.

Objective: keep pandemic out of New Zealand

Wide range of border management options, up to:

  • Closure of New Zealand's border to all non-nationals
  • Quarantine of all returning New Zealand citizens
  • Enhance internal disease surveillance and notification
  • Investigate and follow up any suspect cases


Stamp it out (Cluster Control)

Human pandemic strain case(s) found in New Zealand

Objective: control and/or eliminate any clusters that might be found in New Zealand

Isolate and treat patients and households

Contact trace and treat all contacts

Restrict movement into/out of affected area(s)

Close schools and other places where people congregate, and prohibit mass gatherings

Maintain border management



Manage it (Pandemic Management)

Multiple (>10) clusters at separate locations, or clusters spreading out of control.

Objective: to reduce the impact of pandemic influenza on New Zealand's population

Health service reconfiguration to support community response in affected areas

Social distancing measures

Support for people cared for at home, and their families

5 Green (Stand down) Recover from it (Recovery)

Population protected by vaccination, or pandemic abated in New Zealand.

Objective: expedite the recovery of population health where impacted by pandemic, pandemic management measures, or disruption to normal services

Phase starts when the population is protected by vaccination, or the pandemic abates in New Zealand

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Regional planning – Southern District Health Board (DHB)

The role of the District Health Boards is to implement the Ministry of Health New Zealand Pandemic Action Plan and provide leadership for local planning and response.

Southern DHB planning principles are:

  • Utilise existing services, systems, and structures as far as possible
  • Business as usual as far as possible
  • Health providers will work in their usual scope of practice
  • Infection prevention and control is the main clinical tool

The overall aim is to reduce exposure to the pandemic virus as far as possible until a virus specific vaccine is available.

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Planning at the University

Pandemic Planning Group

A Pandemic Planning Group at the University of Otago has been established by the Vice-Chancellor.

The Group, chaired by Professor Peter Crampton, is charged with the responsibility of planning a framework to ensure that more detailed operational planning is done by relevant areas of the University.

Members of the Group are:

  • Andrea McMillan, Manager, Health and Safety Team, Human Resources Division;
  • Patricia Priest, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine
  • Marion Poore, Chairperson, Otago Southland Pandemic Planning Group (Influenza), Otago District Health Board
  • John Price, Director, Academic Services
  • Karyn Thomson, Director, Student Services
  • Others with specific areas of expertise have been co-opted on to the Group as needed.

The first meeting was held late in 2005 and the Group continues to meet as required since 2005.

The establishment of the Group has, in part, been prompted by concern about avian influenza, but it has not been limited to the specific issues of Avian Influenza. The key focus of the group is to liaise with other New Zealand universities and link in with other wider Pandemic Planning groups and dovetail its efforts with those of the Ministry of Health.

One of the Group's objectives is to integrate Pandemic Planning into the University's existing risk management policies. The emphasis of the Pandemic Planning Group is to plan for an interruption of the University for a period of a few weeks or even longer, due to reduced numbers of staff being able to work.


Andrea McMillan
Head, Health and Safety Compliance, Human Resources Division
Tel 64 3 479 7380