London, May 11 : The UK was not ready to deal with a worst-case pandemic scenario, according to a recently leaked secret Whitehall document produced years before the novel coronavirus outbreak.
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, Xinhua news agency quoted the Evening Standard newspaper as saying on Sunday.
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.
The report comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK has increased to 220,449, with 31,930 deaths, currently the highest in Europe.