The TUC has advised employers not to panic over the recent media furore surrounding swine flu by stocking up on drugs but to consider contingency plans should "hundreds of thousands of people" become infected.
Last week HR magazine reported on a number of high-profile employers stockpiling supplies of drugs such as Tamiflu or Relenza to combat the spread of the disease but the TUC advises employers not to buy in the antivirals as staff might be tempted to take them without having the illness, which will not prevent them from falling ill with swine flu in a few months' time.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "There is no reason for employers to take panic measures when simple good hygiene and encouraging staff who are sick to stay at home is the best immediate response. Rather than buying up supplies of antiviral medication to give their staff or stockpiling supplies of latex gloves and disposable facemasks, employers should be concentrating on putting sensible plans in place.
"If large companies buy up stocks of antivirals simply to keep their staff at work during an outbreak, this could have serious implications for the treatment of people who actually get ill and need antiviral medication."
Over the weekend reports have suggested the outbreak might not be as serious as originally anticipated, with the Mexican government claiming that the number of people with symptoms is stabilising. So far 27 Britons have been confirmed as having swine flu.
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