HK banks urged to take precautions against flu

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority urged local banks Thursday to put in place "all necessary measures" to ensure that the sector does its business as usual if the city is hit by the raging swine flu virus.

In an e-mail to local banks' executives, Danny Leung, acting executive of the HKMA Banking Supervision, said the institutions should invoke relevant emergency measures and make sure that sufficient equipment and devices are in place to support the activation of "work from home" or "split operations" strategies.

He demanded that a clear command, control and communication structure for crisis management be established in each institutions for effective monitoring of the latest development of the situation.

The official also required that efforts be taken to raise staff awareness of the disease and improve environmental hygiene. Hong Kong has been on high alert since swine flu cases were first reported in Mexico.

Earlier on Thursday, Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang said the government is ready to escalate the response level to the highest level of "Emergency" when necessary. The current response level is "serious."