I'm a bit worried about swine flu. But not in some doom and gloom filled end-of-the-world-is-nigh way.
What's worrying me about swine flu right now is the hype we saw earlier this year, and what the consequences of this hype might be.
Media stories concerning swine flu surfaced in April following a number of H1N1 virus related deaths. As the virus spread to other countries including Britain, media coverage escalated. A number of school were closed and deaths among people with underlying health conditions were reported.
In July, newspapers reported "worst-case-scenario" estimates from chief medical officer Professor Sir Liam Donaldson of 30% of the UK population becoming infected and 65,000 deaths.* The "best case scenario" was 5% of the population becoming infected and 3,100 deaths, according to the same reports.
Concerns were also raised about absence from work and the impact this might have on an already damaged economy?
But by the end of August the estimated number of new cases of swine flue began to fall. There were fewer than 70 swine-flu related deaths in the UK. There'd been no great exodus from work, other than for the usual summer holidays. And with the majority of cases being reported as "mild" and no signs of the virus mutating, the media lost interest.
It reminds me of the millennium bug. Remember that? A lot of hype, but no catastrophe.
There's a danger in this situation. It's like the boy who cried wolf. I'm worried that the next time there's a warning of impending disaster it will be ignored. I'm concerned that real risk may be dismissed as nothing but hype.
Disasters do happen. Don't forget Buncefield, the floods of 2007, foot-and-mouth disease, the fuel blockades and so on.
Businesses can't afford to be complacent. Pandemics, computer problems, fires, explosions, freak weather and other potential disasters should all be planned for. Make sure your commercial clients have a business continuity plan, regardless of the hype!
Pass on our free guide 'Business Resilience - A guide to protecting your business'. Visit the Risk Advice section of our website at www.aviva.co.uk/risksolutions/