Winter flu season and Monkeypox

Are you prepared for the upcoming winter flu season, and should you be worried about Monkeypox?!

The Ministry of Health has indicated that we may experience a particularly bad flu season this year. This is due to us previously having heavy restrictions in place on who could travel here, plus we’ve had all new arrivals into New Zealand stay in managed isolation prior to going out into the community. As a result of these restrictions, we’ve had very little influenza circulating in New Zealand for the past two years, so overall immunity is likely to be lower than previous years. With international borders reopening, we’re likely to see new strains of flu spreading in our communities. 

You may have also seen recent media coverage about an extremely rare disease called Monkeypox that is spreading around the world. So far around 100 cases have been reported in 12 countries, including two in Australia. 

The key messages from the Ministry of Health are that as of today, there are no confirmed or suspected cases in New Zealand, and that the risk of importation of Monkeypox to New Zealand is deemed to be low. They have also stated that Monkeypox is vastly different from Coronavirus, because it is far less contagious and that the illness is usually mild, particularly in countries with good health systems.

If you or anyone you know has recently returned from overseas travel and you develop a skin rash accompanied by a fever, intense headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy or swollen lymph nodes, you should seek professional healthcare advice as soon as possible.

As we approach winter, now is a good time to take stock and consider whether you are currently taking enough steps to prevent the spread of various winter ills and chills within your business. One of the best ways to keep you and your team safe and well through winter is by providing a work environment that takes preventive action to reduce the spread of bugs.  

Our ideas on actions you can take include:

  • Provide appropriate sanitary items such as tissues, no-touch rubbish bins, hand soap and hand sanitiser
  • create a regular cleaning and sanitisation plan for your store of frequent touch points (door handles, eftpos machines, phones) and common areas
  • encourage staff to get the yearly flu vaccine, consider providing funding or time off to enable them to get it
  • hang signage in common areas reminding people about good hygiene practices
  • encouraging social distancing in your store 
  • ensuring people stay home if unwell

Spending some time planning and implementing the appropriate tools and processes will go a long way toward minimising business disruption this winter. 

A reminder too, that taking care of our mental health and wellbeing is just as important as our physical wellbeing. Retail NZ has some great tools and resources available to help guide you and your team to stay mentally fit here.

If you have any questions on any of the above information or would like further advice, feel free to get in touch with our advice service on 0800 472 472 or [email protected].

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