Updated details of how the UK plans to cope with a possible flu pandemic have been published by the government.
The UK is stockpiling doses of anti-viral Tamiflu
Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson has warned that 50,000 Britons could die if bird flu mutates to a form easily passed between humans.
The key points of the plan are:
- Enough vaccine to cover the UK population - 120 million doses - would be bought. It could be developed only once the pandemic had started and would be used against subsequent waves as it would take several months to prepare.
- Manufacturers are being invited to tender in advance for the contract to supply the vaccine.
- A stockpile of 14.6 million courses of anti-viral drugs is being built up. It is not a cure, but would be used to protect those most at risk of serious illness. So far the UK has 2.5 million doses, with 800,000-a-month arriving.
- If there is a pandemic, radio, TV and newspaper announcements would be made. These would include simple advice on hygiene and treatment.
- Public meetings, such as concerts and football matches, could be banned in an attempt to contain the disease. Travel restrictions could also be enforced.
The danger posed by bird flu is causing worldwide concern
- Thousands of information packs outlining what steps to take are being sent to GPs. Guidance for patients is included. Regular updates will be issued as needed.
- Health workers are being asked to draw up plans detailing how they would respond to a pandemic.
- NHS staff are to be trained in managing services during a pandemic and how to cope with the demands likely to be placed on them.
- The plan was last updated in March and is expected to be revised again in the future.
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