Tue March, 22 2005
An official British government estimate has predicted that if hit with the bird flu, there potentially be between 20,000 and 750,000 deaths. In addition, more than 25 percent of the active workforce could be home sick. Britain is preparing contingency plans including the stockpiling of medications and other supplies. The chief medical officer has also indicated that a national preparedness plan could be put in place that would shut down public places and issue travel warnings.
LONDON (AFP) – Hundreds of thousands of people may die and one quarter of the work force could be absent if Britain were hit by a bird flu pandemic, a senior government official said.
“It may be somewhere between 20,000 and 750,000 extra deaths and it may be 25 percent of the population off work,” the government official, speaking on a non-attributable basis, told a conference in London.
“That is the shape of the event we are going to have to deal with,” he said.
Britain’s population is nearly 60 million people, with 28 million working, according to government figures.
Contingency plans already announced by Britain’s health department include the stockpiling of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu at a cost of 200 million pounds (380 million dollars, 290 million euros).
Thats quite a spread for the casualty range but who’s to know how fast and how hard it would hit any population. Its good to see the government is being prepared but if they are figuring that 25 percent of the workforce is down that is going to cause huge problems. Even if the numbers of doctors and nurses infected is low, they cannot function for long with out support staff. Nor can the hospitals keep going without supplies etc. Hopefully we do not get to that point.