Employees at 'Fashion Enter' make scrubs for NHS staff on April 24, 2020 in London, England. Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Employees at 'Fashion Enter' make scrubs for NHS staff on April 24, 2020 in London, England. Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Leak reveals UK was ‘warned of virus’

UK ministers were warned about the risk of coronavirus last year and told to stockpile PPE, a leaked document has revealed.

The detailed Cabinet Office document claimed a pandemic could cost tens of thousands of lives and demanded "capability requirements" to keep the nation safe, The Sun reported.

Employees at 'Fashion Enter' make scrubs for NHS staff on April 24, 2020 in London, England. Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Employees at 'Fashion Enter' make scrubs for NHS staff on April 24, 2020 in London, England. Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Leaked to The Guardian, the document reveals the UK Government was told to stockpile personal protective equipment (PPE), establish contact tracing, and draw up plans to manage a surge in deaths.

The Government was also warned to make plans for helping British citizens stuck abroad in the case of a pandemic, with getting them back flagged as a priority.

One of those who signed off on the 2019 National Security Risk Assessment was Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government's chief scientific adviser.

 

The document said:

  • A pandemic would play out in up to three waves
  • 50 per cent of the population would be infected
  • A pandemic of moderate virulence could lead to 65,600 deaths
  • The potential cost to the UK could be £2.35 trillion ($AU4.5 trillion)
  • It could take years for health and social care services to recover
  • There would be public outrage if it looked like the Government was handling it badly.

 

It comes as the UK's hospital death toll from coronavirus approaches 20,000.

It is unclear whether Theresa May or Boris Johnson were Prime Minister when the document was submitted.

Running to more than 600 pages, it specifically referenced a coronavirus outbreak by mentioning SARS and MERS.

The document highlighted the need for "stockpiles of countermeasures", for example, PPE, in the event of a pandemic.

Under a heading of "Response Capability Requirements", it outlined: "Procedures related to disease surveillance and early detection, plus any associated infrastructure, should be in place."

 

"Robust and tested arrangements for rapid scientific and clinical advice should similarly be in place," the document went on.

"Local and national plans for management of excess deaths resulting from any mass casualty event should be present.

"Local and national plans to deal with a surge in demand for health and social care services need to be accounted for.

"There needs to be stockpiles of countermeasures and advanced purchase arrangements for those which cannot be acquired in advance.

"Communication plans to encourage social distancing and good hygiene should be active.

"Sector resilience plans including planning for absence of key workers, need enforcing."

A source told The Guardian: "There was a national plan for dealing with a pandemic that should have been implemented.

"But who took control of that? And who was responsible for making sure that plans were being made at a local level?"

However, a lot of the recommendations mentioned in the document were implemented by the Government.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.

Originally published as Leak reveals UK was 'warned of virus'


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