Scenario 2

Swine flu reaches the UK (week 3)
Remember that although these are based on real events that happened in 2009, these are not actually happening now

Human cases of swine influenza A/H1N1 have been reported in many countries including the UK (Scotland). WHO has raised the pandemic alert level to Phase 4. This indicates that the likelihood of a pandemic has increased, but not that a pandemic is inevitable.

Two people admitted to a Scottish hospital after returning from Mexico have been confirmed as having swine influenza A(H1N1). Both patients, a man and a woman, are recovering. Seven people who have been in contact with them are displaying mild symptoms. Other cases are being investigated by Health Protection Scotland (HPS). The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against travel to Mexico.

UK infections
World reactions
BBC sound file – is swine flu being over-hyped? 
School closures and here

Panic begins over drug availability (REMEMBER: No vaccine has been developed yet)
GPs might not work in pandemic

The papers, TV news and websites are all reporting on the chance of a pandemic severely hitting the UK. Many are concentrating on the travel link to flu at present. Symptoms are being clearly reported but there is some confusion as to which groups of people are at-risk and there is a feeling that the pandemic (if it comes) won’t be too deadly.
Social media platforms are awash with a variety of true and false information about swine flu.

Week 12
The first cases of swine flu in school children have been reported in a school in south west London. These are children who have recently returned from a school trip to Mexico. They are responding to treatment, and their close contacts have been given antivirals as a precaution. The Health Protection Agency (for England) has advised the school to close as a temporary precaution for five days.

Although WHO has not yet declared a pandemic, internationally eleven countries have officially reported 257 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection. In addition to the UK cases, cases have been confirmed in Austria, Canada, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the USA. Other countries are reporting suspect cases. There are now eight confirmed cases in the UK. Further individuals are being investigated and will be confirmed (or not) as having A(H1N1) infection by the Health Protection Agency as soon as possible

The media are turning from reporting the world-wide status of the virus to seeing how the UK is coping and what plans are in place to help the public. Stories of GPs misdiagnosing swine flu are around and there is increasing confusion as to which patient groups are at greatest risk, and what to do if you or a loved one fall into one such group

Questions to help you with your discussion:
1. In the UK at this point, the strategy being followed is known as “assessment”. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this strategy?
2. If antivirals and vaccines are/will be available, how do we identify priority groups, how best to communicate with them and how best to deliver them?
3. Do we set up ‘help lines’ to advise the public? How should these be manned/supported?
4. If the pandemic takes off, what resources are likely to be needed to deal with the consequences and who might supply them? Note: in this scenario, some of the ‘priority groups’ will be those who can help maintain public order and essential services.
5. At what point do you think about cancelling public events to minimise spread of disease and how do you manage communication to minimise panic?
6. As a healthcare professional should you address false information or engage with patients on social media? What are the implications either way?



One Response to “Scenario 2”


  1. #fluscenario – session 2 | Public Health Teaching in Dundee - November 12, 2013

    […] Scenario 2 […]

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