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Swine Flu Could Bring Uk To A Halt, Whitehall Told

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/1...aralyse-country

Vital sections of society could be paralysed if swine flu reaches epidemic proportions as expected, the government has been warned.

A Whitehall meeting of emergency services and business chiefs has been told that more than a third of Britain's businesses have no response plans at all for dealing with the pandemic, while specific fears have been raised about the ability of the country's broadband network and the London Underground to operate effectively.

The development follows news last week that the first British person with no underlying health problems had died of swine flu. The patient, who died on Friday at a hospital in Essex, was the 15th swine flu-related death in the UK. "This death underlines that, although the virus is proving generally mild in most people, it is more severe in some cases," said the government's chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson.

Doctors have also warned that rates of infection are reaching epidemic levels in London and the West Midlands. Several million people could become ill with either seasonal flu or swine flu by the end of the year. Schools would close and transport and other vital services, such as GP surgeries, would be put under severe strain.

As a result, health officials are considering plans that would allow people with suspected swine flu to take up to two weeks off work without a doctor's note. At present employees are allowed to sign themselves off sick for seven days.

According to data revealed at the Whitehall meeting, 38% of businesses have no response plans for dealing with a pandemic. At the meeting, transport bosses outlined details of how trains, airports and bus services would function. Transport for London officials said staff shortages could produce a reduced tube service but argued this would be sufficient as there would be fewer commuters.

But international business continuity expert Lyndon Bird, who attended the meeting, told the Observer he was "not convinced" by TfL's response. Bird, who is international technical director of the Business Continuity Institute, was also sceptical about the ability of Britain's digital infrastructure to cope with hundreds of thousands of people being forced to work from home.

BT could not give "definitive" assurances that Britain's broadband network would work fully because of the vast numbers of people logging on from home, he said.

If you are ill why would you be working from home? Why would the system collapse, seems bu11sh1t to me.

But as I keep saying this is Brown's get out of jail card, or so he hopes if the pandemic does happen we will probably get pushed into depression faster and Brown can then blame it on the flu that started in Mexico.

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/1...economic-impact

Will the internet crash if hundreds of thousands of people, who are unable to get to their offices, work from home? Are plans to ensure food gets to the shops workable? Can the transport system operate with a third fewer staff?

If Bruce Mann was harbouring private thoughts that his five-year anniversary as head of Britain's Civil Contingencies Secretariat would pass by quietly, swine flu has no doubt made him think again. And those questions are very much on his mind.

Appointed in September 2004 to co-ordinate Britain's response to national threats, Mann is working overtime liaising with government departments, emergency services, infrastructure companies and the wider business community to ensure Britain does not grind to a halt if, as predicted, swine flu claims 100,000 new victims every day in six weeks.

Last Thursday, officials confirmed that the number of people known to have died after contracting swine flu doubled in three days. Fourteen people are now known to have died and thousands of people seek medical help every day.

In a dreary conference facility in Whitehall 12 days ago, Mann, who works in the Cabinet Office, told 100 senior government officials, leaders from the emergency services and captains of industry that the virus represents one of the most serious threats to the UK in years.

For some time, Mann and his team have considered a pandemic a "key risk". "Bruce and his team felt there was a need for information-sharing from industry professionals so we could all sing from the same hymn sheet," said Lyndon Bird, international technical director at the world renowned Business Continuity Institute, who spoke with Mann at the emergency planning meeting.

Among the attendees was a senior figure from BT. He was asked whether the UK's internet service providers could cope with hundreds of thousands of people being forced to work from home.

According to Bird, BT could not give "definitive" assurances that the internet would work at full speed with vast numbers of extra people logging on to computers away from workplaces. "They didn't suggest there would be major interruptions but then again everything is based on assumptions."

Assumptions, isn't that what Treasury forecasts are based on?

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/1...economic-impact

The outbreak of swine flu, which has already claimed 429 lives around the world, will undoubtedly damage the already fragile global economy. Although it is impossible at this stage to make an accurate assessment of the likely impact of the disease, some economists have suggested a full-scale pandemic could cost more than $3 trillion (£1.9 trillion). As a guide, we can consider what happened to the economy during past pandemics.

Black Death

Probably the most destructive pandemic in history, killing an estimated 75 million to 200 million people worldwide in the 14th century.

"It altered the course of European history and, in the end, world history," says Professor Tony Barnett at the London School of Economics. "Some have argued that it established what we call modern capitalism."

The significant loss of manpower not only depressed the economy of the time but forced people to change the way they worked. Before the plague, the main source of income in East Anglia, for example, was growing crops. But the Black Death claimed so many lives in the region that survivors turned to rearing sheep for wool as that required much less manpower.

This lack of manpower also brought new equipment. For example, prior to the plague, men used spears to catch fish, but those who survived had to invent new devices to catch the same amount of fish with less manpower. That is how big fishing nets came into being.

Many believe that the Black Death ended feudalism, the system of service in return for a grant of land, which burdened the peasant with many obligations to his lord. Since so many peasants and artisans died of the plague, those who survived became more particular about where they worked.

"This was more than merely the collapse of the medieval economy. It was the death of medieval civilisation," said American historian David Hackett Fischer in his book The Great Wave.

Spanish flu

The 1918 pandemic is estimated to have caused at least 50 million deaths, with 228,000 in Britain alone. It lasted until 1920, spreading as far as the Arctic and remote Pacific islands, and is estimated to have affected up to a billion people - half the world's population at the time.

However, even though this strain of influenza was responsible for more deaths than the first world war, it remains largely forgotten.

The flu was most deadly for people aged between 20 and 40, which meant that it killed a large proportion of the world's workforce.

The flu affected 28% of all Americans and claimed the lives of an estimated 675,000. The International Monetary Fund said that in the US industrial production and wider business activity dipped at the height of the pandemic in October 1918. However, according to a recent study by the Canadian Department of Finance, these declines point to an annual loss in output of just 0.4%. Other indicators point to temporary and modest reductions in passenger rail transport and retail sales.

"While these estimates suggest a surprisingly modest economic impact, it appears unlikely that a similar outbreak today would have comparably limited effects," the IMF said in its report. "The Spanish flu struck when the US economy was on a war footing. There may have been considerable social pressure on workers to stay at work, and the lack of a formal safety net may have threatened workers with high financial costs in case of absenteeism from the workplace."

Sars

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), which struck in 2003, is believed to have killed 774 people in mainland China and Hong Kong. A study for the Asian Development Bank estimated the cost of the crisis in terms of lost economic activity in the Asia region at between $18bn and $60bn, the equivalent of between 0.6% and 2% of the GDP of the region.

Julian Jessop, chief international economist at consultancy Capital Economics, says that the economic costs of Sars were much less than feared initially and activity soon recovered. Consumer confidence in China collapsed briefly, but the damage to retail sales appears as just a blip in the data. The cost of the outbreak is estimated to have cost in the region of $2m per case identified (around 8,500), and to have had a full economic cost to East Asian economies of about $32bn in total.

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The outbreak of swine flu, which has already claimed 429 lives around the world, will undoubtedly damage the already fragile global economy.

Flu kills over 30,000 each year (edit just in the US)..

Hardly any measures had been taken to control the spread of swine flu, so fail to see the impact thus far.

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The outbreak of swine flu, which has already claimed 429 lives around the world, will undoubtedly damage the already fragile global economy.

Flu kills over 30,000 each year (edit just in the US)..

Hardly any measures had been taken to control the spread of swine flu, so fail to see the impact thus far.

Estimates range from 17,000 to 36,000 deaths a year in the US but over 90% are old folk. Swine flu seems to be hitting the working population so far with very few deaths in the over 60s. Hence the possible economic impact in the winter.

If the NHS can't cope this winter, Brown will probably get the blame!

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The outbreak of swine flu, which has already claimed 429 lives around the world, will undoubtedly damage the already fragile global economy.

Flu kills over 30,000 each year (edit just in the US)..

Hardly any measures had been taken to control the spread of swine flu, so fail to see the impact thus far.

yeah, but thats just ordinary flu. this is extra.

not forgetting that more people died in car crashes than soldiers killed in theatre of war.

FEAR, they want you to be fearful and...

theres one born every minute.....and thats just UK.

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Estimates range from 17,000 to 36,000 deaths a year in the US but over 90% are old folk. Swine flu seems to be hitting the working population so far with very few deaths in the over 60s. Hence the possible economic impact in the winter.

If the NHS can't cope this winter, Brown will probably get the blame!

Haven't you been paying attention, if the NHS fails clearly this will because we've not spent enough money on it. Brown will claim we need to spend more and he's the man to do it.

If only we could spend more money these problems wouldn't exist.

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Haven't you been paying attention, if the NHS fails clearly this will because we've not spent enough money on it. Brown will claim we need to spend more and he's the man to do it.

If only we could spend more money these problems wouldn't exist.

I don't think it matters what Brown says or does now. The economy is in tatters. The Afghanistan situation is expected to get very nasty in the coming months, then swine flu is expected to really kick in come September.

I would advise Brown to go away and hide.

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I wonder what happens when Ebola meets with Swine flu?

Ebola found in piggies in Philippines.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8143823.stm

A form of Ebola virus has been detected in pigs for the first time, raising concerns it could mutate and pose a new risk to humans.

Ebola-Reston virus (REBOV) has only previously been seen in monkeys and humans - and has not caused illness.

But researchers are concerned that pigs might provide a melting pot where the virus could mutate into something more menacing for humans.

The new discovery - in the Philippines - is featured in the journal Science.

However, the researchers, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stress that the virus at present appears to pose no risk to humans.

It has been detected in farm workers who tend the infected pigs, and they have shown no signs of illness.

However, writing in Science, the researchers said: "REBOV infection in domestic swine raises concern about the potential for emerging disease in humans and a wider range of livestock.

"There is concern that its passage through swine may allow REBOV to diverge and shift its potential for pathogenicity."

REBOV belongs to the family of filoviruses which usually target primates.

Deadly bleeding

These viruses cause viral haemorrhagic fevers, which cause extensive internal bleeding, and can be fatal.

The latest study examined tissue samples taken from pigs from different parts of the Philippines suffering from unusually severe respiratory infections.

Analysis showed that the animals were infected with widely varying strains of the virus, suggesting it may have circulated widely in pigs even before it was first discovered in monkeys exported to the US from the Philippines in 1989.

The researchers said it was possible that REBOV originally emerged in another, as yet unidentified, host. Fruit-eating bats have been suggested as one possibility.

Pigs are known to provide an ideal host for viruses to mutate. Experts say the potential risk is magnified because they are an essential part of the human food chain, and come into close contact with people.

Researcher Dr Michael McIntosh said: "We know this family of viruses are associated with fatal illnesses in humans.

"Even though there is no evidence at this time to suggest REBOV causes diseases in humans it does seem that it can infect humans, and be transmitted from swine to humans.

"The effect of such an infection on an immuno-compromised host - humans or swine - is also an unknown factor of concern."

The World Health Organization says that pork is still safe to eat, provided it is prepared and cooked properly

Hey ho. May as well borrow up to your t1ts and blow it all on booze, women and fast cars.

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I wonder what happens when Ebola meets with Swine flu?

Ebola found in piggies in Philippines.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8143823.stm

Hey ho. May as well borrow up to your t1ts and blow it all on booze, women and fast cars.

would it not make sense to just cull all the pigs on the planet as they seem to be at the root of all these bugs?

see it as our gift to the muslim world <_<

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would it not make sense to just cull all the pigs on the planet as they seem to be at the root of all these bugs?

see it as our gift to the muslim world <_<

why stop at pigs.

KILL THEM ALL.

STERILISE THE PLANET.

BOIL IT FOR 6 MINUTES....oh wait....its a reason for global warming, which began in Amerwica.

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I dont know anyone that has swine flu, scaremongering bullsh@t

Would love to see the figures for Norovirus every year, fatalities at any rate

Every now and then it sweeps the country hitting the governments mythical 100,000 per day infection rate, is appalling and debilitating in the extreme, yet comes and goes and the world keeps turning

This thing sounds like a few days in bed watching Sopranos DVD's, OH THE HUMANITY!!

But wait - the lizards are pumping it into the water supply, can't you see??????

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I dont know anyone that has swine flu, scaremongering bullsh@t

Well I've had it this past week...not that you know me of course. It is sh1t by the way; I have been very feverish (at times delerious), with chills, sweats, terrible, terrible cough, aches all over my body, dog-tired (to the point where getting out of bed to go to the toilet was an ordeal) - a 'classic' flu.

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Guest anorthosite
I dont know anyone that has swine flu, scaremongering bullsh@t

And I don't know anyone that has cancer or HIV, scaremongering bull$hit.

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come to think of it, I dont know any dead people.

death is a myth.

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Guest anorthosite
come to think of it, I dont know any dead people.

death is a myth.

Oh my god, he compared death with cancer! :o:o

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Oh my god, he compared death with cancer! :o:o

If cancer was spreading contagiously at the rate of swine flu then no-one would say it was scaremongering

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Guest anorthosite
If cancer was spreading contagiously at the rate of swine flu then no-one would say it was scaremongering

I'm not sure anyone has said that there's scaremongering about cancer.

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I dont know anyone that has swine flu, scaremongering bullsh@t

You don't know anyone that has been tested positive for swine flu. People with minor symptoms are not even being tested. Why would they be ? I have read a few reports that state many who get this will barely notice the symptoms. I reckon hundreds of thousands have had it already. Easy. Of course this doesn't mean the UK is going to grind to a halt as a result. That remains to be seen.

People seem to generally get a wee but ill for a few days, then feel fine, then get back to the daily grind. Others get worse symptoms but like most illnesses it seems to affect different people in different ways.

I know numerous people who have been feeling rough recently, bit of a sore throat, tired, wee bit of a cough. I imagine a fair few of them have had it. I am feeling a bit rough myself - maybe I have it too !!

Football supporters bus

Have a read of this story and how many people got pig flu from a single day on a bus. Then how many passed it onto others when they got home. The only reason these numbers are known is because they were tested. Think of how many people get on a bis every day. Or use a public toilet, or share a desk at work, or pick up things in a shop.

If hundreds of thousands of Brits have not had swine flu so far ? I would be staggered.

Anyway - no point worrying about it. I will probably get it. You will probably get it. We will both probably be absolutely fine.

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