EXPERTS are predicting that a London flu pandemic could kill anything from 7,542 people to 94,270 depending on how many “waves” of infection there are.
A 120-page report drawn up for the London Regional Resilience Flu Pandemic Response Plan warns: “The pandemic may occur over multiple waves, of which a second or subsequent wave could be more severe than the first.”
The greatest number of fatalities, in the worst case scenario, is likely to be in Croydon at 4,235, followed by Barnet, 4,113, Ealing, 3,810, and Bromley, 3,749. More than 3,000 people may die in Wandsworth, Southwark, Lewisham, Newham, Redbridge, Lambeth, Hillingdon, Enfield and Brent.
The borough-by-borough figures were drawn up using population data, with larger boroughs having a higher mortality toll, as well as “excess death trends” due to the size of vulnerable groups locally.
Hundreds of thousands of employees are expected to call in sick with others not turning up to work because of fear of being infected. People will be urged to stockpile non-perishable food so that if they fall ill they can minimise contact with others. Victims will be told to stay at home as the virus spreads across the country and could kill up to 750,000 people nationwide.
Experts have already warned that mortuaries will be unable to cope and that hospitals will have to turn ill people away because of the surge in demand.
Schools may be shut as children risk becoming “super spreaders” of the virus. The document for the pandemic response plan stresses that routine flu vaccinations are unlikely to protect against a new strain of the virus and making available sufficient quantities of an effective vaccine could take six months.
A London flu exercise is due to take place in June to develop the emergency response plan. The emergency blueprint has been approved by the London Regional Resilience Forum which is co-chaired by London minister Tony McNulty and local government minister John Healey, with Boris Johnson as deputy chairman.
London has seen cases of typhoid, whooping cough and scarlet fever rise by 166 per cent in the past two years and a 214 per cent increase in cases of mumps.