Sunday, April 09, 2006



The London Sunday Telegraph claims today that the British government was anything but prepared for the confirmation of the UK's first case of avian influenza, and are desperately trying to get up to speed, terrified that a bird flu pandemic would cripple the nation and cause widespread panic.

Farmers across Britain are furious that a major vacinnation programs for poultry was not ready to immediately roll out, and there is a widespread belief that few of the long discussed preventative measures to halt the spread of bird flu, or to control a pandemic, are in place.

There is also a serious lack of long distance drivers for heavy goods vehicles who would be willing to transport food and water into affected areas, and firemen and retired drivers are expected to be called in to meet the shortfall, should a pandemic break out.

The Telegraph claims it has seen a secret government report on pandemic response that was prepared in mid-March, and the report reveals :

* Anti-virals will be supplied to British embassy and consular staff in foreign countries in the event of a human-to-human outbreak, but not to British nationals or holidaymakers.

* The Blair government believes a pandemic could last longer than six months, and there may be successive waves of infection.

* Prime Minister Tony Blair would eventually take charge of managing a pandemic crisis, and Whitehall refers to a pandemic event called a full-scale "battle rhythm".

* Large numbers of schools would be closed.

* Large numbers of masks would be provided to the public.

* Families may have to wait up to four weeks to bury dead relatives.

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