Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Forget terrorism, according to the Independent (UK), bird flu is as a big a threat if not bigger than international terrorism in Britain. The article reports,
Bird flu is now as much of a danger to Britain as terrorism, ministers have been told by the Government's official emergency body.
Top officials from the Civil Contingency Secretariat (CCS), part of the Cabinet Office, told a cabinet subcommittee last week that a flu pandemic - which it believes could kill 700,000 Britons - is now one of the most serious threats facing the country.
Plans are being made to close schools and cancel sporting fixtures in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus, and official advice on how to try to avoid being infected will be ready for publication this summer.
Cobra, Britain's emergency committee, will co-ordinate attempts to fight the virus. But the Government accepts that, if the flu reaches Britain, there is no hope of stopping an epidemic, and that the only hope is to mitigate its effects.
The top-level warning comes as alarming evidence emerges from Asia that the virus, which has killed more than half of those known to have caught it, is spreading. Patchy reports from China and Vietnam suggest that the disease is affecting larger clusters of people, raising concern that it is mutating into a highly infectious strain that will sweep through the world. The World Health Organisation has warned that "the world is now in the gravest possible danger of a pandemic", while the Food and Agriculture Organisation calls it a "sword of Damocles" hanging over the globe.
For more information on the Bird Flu, please see Effect Measure, an excellent public health blog, which provides updated information as well as interesting commentary on this potential pandemic. Indeed, they have formed a Flu Wiki to help keep everyone up-to-date with the latest information. [bm]