Swine flu- nanny state launches mass advertising campaign as ministers step up fight
Every household in the country will have a leaflet through the door from next Tuesday onwards
As five cases of swine flu were confirmed in the UK – including a 12-year-old girl – and 78 further people are being tested, labour ministers mounted a major offensive to contain the problem.
Adverts will run in newspapers, on radio and on TV from today giving information about swine flu and advising people that basic hygiene measures such as covering your nose and mouth with a tissue and washing your hands are the best ways to protect against the disease.
Every household in the country will have a leaflet through the door from next Tuesday onwards also giving information on the disease and what to do in the event of someone showing symptoms.
Health Secretary Mr Johnson said: “We are following the philosophy to hope for the best but absolutely prepare for the worst. It is inevitable there will be more cases. What is reassuring is that if you take Tamiflu early you make a full recovery. It is just like a dose of flu. It could get much worse but we are prepared.”
Sir Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer, said the last bad seasonal flu year was in the winter of 1999/2000 when 22,000 people died – ten times the norm – and he warned that a pandemic could be similar to that situation but ‘multiplied several times over’.
Mr Johnson announced a raft of new measures including boosting the stock of antiviral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, which reduce symptoms and severity of flu from 33m courses to 50m courses and extra antibiotics are being purchased to treat people who may develop secondary complications such as pneumonia.
Extra face masks with inbuilt filters are being bought for NHS staff and all front line health workers will receive their own course of anti-virals to take if they treat someone found to be infected with swine flu.
Health Protection Agency staff will be at all airports where flights come in from infected areas and all passengers on flights from affected areas to be given a leaflet with advice about seeking medical attention if display symptoms within seven days.
Airlines are being asked to keep passenger manifests for seven days instead of usual 24 hours to aid in contact tracing if necessary.
The public are being advised not to buy face masks as there is no evidence they prevent the spread.
Sir Liam, said: “So far all the cases in the UK have been imported cases from the main affected areas and we have not seen any ongoing transmission.”
He said the positive side of this situation is that the virus is so far not spreading easily between people and no onward transmission has been yet seen outside Mexico and the US with the only confirmed cases having caught the disease in Mexico.
He said: “The virus is giving us a bit of time. It may become fast and furious at a later stage.”
He warned that in past epidemics and pandemics children have been the ‘supercarriers’ so the school holidays, going back to school have been key factors in the spread.
This may be why health experts acted quickly to advise that the Paignton Community College be closed for a week after a 12-year-old girl there was confirmed as having contracted swine flu.
Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary egotist said: “We will put the health of children first.”