A pandemic is an outbreak occurring over a large geographical area, often worldwide, affecting a high proportion of the population with elevated mortality rates. Influenza pandemics include the Spanish flu (1918), Asian flu (1957), Hong Kong flu (1968) and H1N1 flu (2009). The 1918 pandemic killed an estimated 20 million people worldwide.

In a pandemic, public health units have broad responsibilities and powers. Child care centres may be asked to report illnesses or investigate cases more frequently. People sick may be asked to isolate themselves from others, and those who are exposed to the virus may also be asked to self-quarantine. In some cases, a Medical Officer of Health may close schools and child care centres to contain the spread of a pandemic.

Child care centres should have a plan in place which considers how operations could be affected in a pandemic situation in which many of their staff members may become ill. 

Ontario Health Plan for an Influenza Pandemic