Swine flu will infect North East’s economy
Jul 17 2009 by Alastair Craig, The Journal
SWINE flu will infect the region’s economy if the current pandemic strikes down 50% of the North East population as predicted, experts warned last night.
Health organisations have forecast that half the people in Durham, Northumberland, and Tyne and Wear could catch the virus this winter.
That would cost thousands of working days lost to infected employees, reduced retail spending as people stay at home, and a possible hit in business productivity.
UK finance experts have estimated that World GDP could be cut by around £1.8trillion in six months of pandemic, or 3.5% of 2009 GDP.
And business leaders in the region fear the North East will have to face its share of the economic impact – on top of gloomy daily reports on the worsening recession. A spokesman for the North East Chamber of Commerce said: “National statistics are forecasting that at one stage of the outbreak, one in eight workers will be infected and unable to attend work.
“That is going to have a significant impact on the businesses those employees work for. That also means that one in eight consumers will be affected as well, and not spending money, or shopping, or visiting leisure attractions in the North East.
“Business could be hit by that when there is a break in spending. At the moment, though, it’s impossible to say what the final economic impact will be.”
Swine flu has spread across the world since emerging in Mexico and is now officially the first flu pandemic for 40 years. Seventeen people with swine flu have died in the UK so far.
On June 28, there had been 43 confirmed cases in the North East and a total of 5,937 nationally.