Flu pandemic 'could spark food shortages'

by 5m Editor
16 December 2005, at 12:00am

UK - A flu pandemic could spark food shortages and panic buying, an all-party committee of peers said today. The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee called on the Government to improve its co-ordination of domestic contingency planning in the event of a major flu outbreak. It also urged ministers to increase support for international efforts to prevent a pandemic. The committee said not enough attention had been paid to the problem of staff taking sick leave, and the knock-on effect that this would have when key workers, such as supermarket drivers, failed to make vital deliveries. The September 2000 fuel blockade, when petrol stations ran out of fuel, demonstrated how quickly the country ground to a halt, according to one peer. Crossbencher Lord Broers, who chaired the inquiry, said: &quot;A flu pandemic looks likelier now than at any time since the 1960s. &quot;But it&#39;s not inevitable and with co-ordinated international action, it can still be prevented. The Government must put its weight behind UN agencies working in south east Asia. &quot;The UK has got a head start on many countries in flu contingency planning. &quot;But the Government could still do better, both by issuing fuller guidance to frontline health workers and by protecting other essential services, such as food distribution networks. <i>Source: Daily Mail</i>

5m Editor