Reserve Bank staff get bird flu kit

Reserve Bank staff have been given medical face masks, hand gel, gloves and tissues in an "emergency bag" for use in the event of an influenza pandemic.

The backpacks were given to the bank's 210 staff last August and have now been updated to include the pandemic-related items.

Reserve Bank spokesman Mike Hannah said the emergency bags predated the bank's pandemic preparations.

"They're designed to assist us in the event of things like an earthquake, tsunami or severe floods where we are unable to leave the building or the Wellington CBD for one to three days," he said yesterday.

Being based in Wellington, the most common concern for Reserve Bank staff was earthquakes. The backpacks also contain a light stick, plastic sanitation bag, water bottle, whistle, wind and waterproof matches, survival blanket, water purification tables, a torch and survival instructions. Staff are expected to add their own shoes, food and any medicine they may need.

The Reserve Bank also holds food and water supplies which were initiated by its former Governor, National Party leader Don Brash.

Meanwhile, a radio campaign promoting pandemic preparedness began yesterday.

The advertisements have been created by Radio New Zealand, which is a "lifeline utility" under the Civil Defence and Emergency Act.

RNZ spokesman John Barr said the public broadcaster initiated the campaign which was developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Economic Development.

RNZ had made the advertisements available to other radio stations. The advertisements stress that although there is no influenza pandemic at present, New Zealand health authorities are seriously planning for a possible pandemic in the future.

The campaign gives people basic information and practical steps to reduce the impact of a flu outbreak.

The campaign is being aired on National Radio, Concert FM, Access Radio and various ethnic stations.

Last year's television advertisements will be followed by a second campaign due to start in March.

- NZPA

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