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http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2005/s1288999.htm "...the British Government is preparing for such a pandemic, and it's got contingency plans in place, including buying and making inflatable mortuaries, quarantine facilities, and preparing evacuation plans for big cities...."

While it is pretty evident that there is worldwide concern among real scientists about a possible human-to-human spread of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, news reports are hyping it all up far more than the WHO. Don't they love anything that suggests we are all "on the brink" and that the end is nigh? In the report above, the spokesman for the World Health Organisation in the Western Pacific region, Peter Cordingly, says the WHO is not particularly concerned about the human-to-human transmission of the virus at this stage.

There seems no mention of any of the dramatic details quoted on ABC.net in the actual draft of the UK avian influenza contingency plan as shown on the DEFRA website. No inflatable mortuaries (inflatable?) nor grand evacuation plans. Pets are, however, lumped in with farm animals to be slaughtered, police are expected to be on hand to assist in "pursuing legal entry to premises", and much reference made to a "Legal Services Directorate General" to cover the government for all eventualities as well as cells and hubs and something called "Defra’s Knowledge Network". Reading its 127 pages gives one a very unpleasant feeling of deja vu. You feel like Kafka's K. But then, we're all beginning to feel like that anyway, now, aren't we?