AN EMERGENCY planning document shows Cheshire agencies are prepared for the worst case scenario during a flu pandemic.
Helen Bellairs, chief executive of NHS Western Cheshire, says the plan covers every possible eventuality, which makes ‘difficult reading’ if you don’t know the background.
The Cheshire influenza pandemic plan predicts an extra 1,000 deaths for the mildest strain, a more serious strain may lead to 6,246 extra fatalities, while the worst case scenario forecasts up to 12,492 more people could die.
Experts are agreed the current swine flu outbreak is mild but could mutate into a more virulent form. And the number of cases is likely to peak in the autumn.
The draft plan, which is reviewed every year, says there is high risk existing mortuary facilities will be overwhelmed.
It may be necessary for hospitals and local authorities to identify additional short-term body storage.
The plan also anticipates the potential for civil unrest with police advised to use intelligence to gauge community tensions to prevent injury to people or property.
Likewise, the armed forces may be required to help the civilian authorities if there is a threat to life or when the community is ‘in danger of being deprived of the essentials of life’.
The plan states: “Influenza pandemics are natural phenomena which occurred three times in the last century.
“Their severity has ranged from something similar to seasonal influenza to a major threat, with many millions of people worldwide becoming ill and a proportion of these dying.”