Flu season 2018: How will the UK prepare for a pandemic?
The heatwave in the UK seems to be on its way out as fresh winds roll in and rain starts to cover parched surfaces but with it they could bring nasty bacteria.
As summer comes to an end, the flu season takes over, posing risks to the young and old and leaving many confined to their beds.
The Virus families of Influenza A, B and C are waiting in the wings, alongside the sinister Swine flu strains.
Countries will be ensuring they can put their best feet forward in coming months the UK has a carefully outlined plan just in case pandemic threatens the horizon.
What is a Pandemic?
When a disease progresses to pandemic, it spreads over large areas, with possible spread over the world.
The World Health Organisation defines a pandemic, saying: “The worldwide spread of a new disease.
“An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges and spreads around the world, and most people do not have immunity.”
Diseases only usually hit pandemic once before receding into the background, as the H1N1 ‘swine flu’ strain caused chaos in 2009, before control of the virus was achieved.
How does the UK prepare for Pandemic?
The UK issued the UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy in 2011, in hopes for effective control against pandemic threats.
Burgeoning with detail, the document advises Public engagement, strategic approaches, and recovery from a major event.
With hundreds of possible deaths from influenza, new emerging strains of the virus coupled with increasing populations mean preparation is more vital than ever.
Government strategy outlines that a pandemic requires global cooperation, with efforts in detection and assessment important for stemming the flow of a virus before it is able to spread far.
New viruses have the ability to surge around the planet and take millions of lives with them, as Swine Flu proved back in 2009.
Apparently, there are three key ways to deal with a pandemic disease before it progresses, and the government advises precaution, proportion, and flexibility.
Essentially, the government has to prepare for the worst, respond with just the right measure – no more or less – and be able to exercise flexibility just in case circumstances quickly change.
In the case of a full-blown pandemic, the UK will not close its borders to the outside world.
The 2011 report states: “The economic, political and social consequences of border closures would also be very substantial, including risks to the secure supply of food, pharmaceuticals and other supplies.“
Screening takes much the same approach, as the government states a lack of need for high-tech screening due to a lengthy incubation period.
Instead, if a pandemic hits the government will rely on self reporting on flights to aeroplane staff.
During a pandemic people will be bombarded with information on how to protect against threats, but free movement via transport will remain possible.