Harmful biological incidents (B incidents) are caused by organisms (incl. viruses). They include pandemics, animal epidemics and all incidents with organisms that endanger or affect the population, animals or the environment. They may also have indirect implications for civil protection due to the absence of staff, e.g. in task force organisations and critical infrastructure.
Harmful biological incidents are jointly managed by both Confederation and cantons. Particularly the Confederation plays an important role in dealing with pandemics and animal epidemics. Although the most important tasks are assigned to expert authorities, major incidents demand a coordinated strategy.
Federal measures to deal with harmful biological incidents are coordinated by the NBCN Crisis Management Board. Depending on the incident the relevant specialist authorities of the Federal Office of Public Health (incidents with pathogens that infect humans, i.e. human pathogens), Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (incidents with animal pathogens) Federal Office for Agriculture (incidents with animal pathogens) or the Federal Office for the Environment (incidents with all other organisms).
As core element of the NBCN Crisis Management Board the NEOC prepares for an emergency by working out contingency plans relating to the B sector. In 2014, the former pandemics special staff (SOPA) was disbanded and its tasks have been integrated into the NBCN Crisis Management Board. At the moment, the latter is developing a start strategy for the case of an influenza pandemic (flu pandemic). This strategy should ensure that all involved in dealing with the crisis have the same understanding of how the consequences of the incident are to be handled. So it clearly defines the goals and priorities of the NBCN Crisis Management Board. It serves as foundation for preparing preliminary decisions at the national government level and enables all involved to act in a coordinated and purposeful manner. It forms the basis for a comprehensive approach (management strategy).