LONDON, May 10 (Xinhua) - Britain was not prepared to deal with a health pandemic, according to the Evening Standard newspaper, citing a recently leaked secret Whitehall document produced years before the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Volunteers prepare free meals for NHS staff, key workers and vulnerable people, at a restaurant in Fulham, south west London on May 9, 2020, during the nationwide lockdown due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: AFP)
The analysis, codenamed Exercise Cygnus, was based on a 2016 simulation of a flu pandemic involving all levels of national, regional and local government, police and other organisations, said the London-based newspaper.
The 57-page Public Health England report, identified a "lack of joint tactical-level plans" for a public health emergency, with demand for services outstripping local capacity, said the newspaper.
It also identified concerns about the expectation the social care system would be able to provide the level of support needed in the event of a serious outbreak, said the Evening Standard.
"The UK's preparedness and response, in terms of its plans, policies and capability, is currently not sufficient to cope with the extreme demands of a severe pandemic that will have a nationwide impact across all sectors," the Cygnus document said.
The document, which analysed the efficacy of the simulation, identified four key lessons, including to be more prepared for a pandemic by better understanding how the public would react to a worst-case scenario health crisis, said the newspaper.
Another 346 COVID-19 patients have died in Britain, bringing the total coronavirus-related death toll in the country to 31,587, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Saturday.
The figures include deaths in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community.