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Flu risk will increase at Olympics

4th April 2012

The Health Protection Agency has rejected claims that the 2012 Olympic Games in London will increase the risk of a flu pandemic spreading in the UK.

LondonSilhouette1

Analysts Maplecroft have ranked Britain as second only to Singapore for the speed at which influenza could spread, because of its dense cities and status as a global travel hub.

Its report said the large influx of visitors to the UK this summer would raise the “already significant” risk of spreading flu.

But Dr Brian McCloskey from the HPA has disagreed with this.

He said: “We have done our own review and we don’t believe that there is a risk. We have sporting events and music festivals all around England and we had the swine flu pandemic at Glastonbury. We also looked at research from the Vancouver Games - neither produced any significant problems.”

At Glastonbury in 2009, thousands of music fans were densely packed in fields for several days at a time during the outbreak of influenza strain H1N1, while at the Olympic Park people would only be together for a few hours.

However, while Maplecroft’s influenza pandemic risk index rated the UK in the “extreme” level of risk, it also found that Britain was one of the top 10 countries best placed to withstand any outbreak.

The Department of Health said the NHS had contingency plans in place for any eventuality at the Games and a comprehensive testing and exercising plan was in place to make sure that "all systems are ready".

 

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