UK Plans Mass Graves If
Bird Flu Pandemic Hits

The Press Association
Mass burials are being considered by the Home Office as part of preparations for a possible avian flu pandemic.
A "prudent worst case" assessment suggested 320,000 people could die in Britain if the H5N1 virus mutated into a form contagious to humans, according to a confidential report seen by the Sunday Times.
That would lead to delays of up to 17 weeks in burying or cremating victims, the document - said to have been discussed by a cabinet committee - says.
It warns that the prospect of "common burial" would stir up images of the mass pits used to bury victims of the Great Plague in 1665.
But in fact it "might involve a large number of coffins buried in the same place at the same time, in such a way that allowed for individual graves to be marked".
Town halls - the report suggests - could deal with what it terms a "base case" of 48,000 deaths in England and Wales in a 15-week pandemic.
But it adds: "Even with ramping local management capacity by 100%, the prudent worst case of 320,000 excess deaths is projected to lead to a delay of some 17 weeks from death to burial or cremation."
Should the outbreak kill 2.5% of those who contract the flu, it warns, "no matter what emergency arrangements are put in place there are likely to be substantially more deaths than can be managed within current timescales".
Bird flu has already forced the slaughter of millions of birds across three continents since the deadly H5N1 strain emerged three years ago.
More than 100 humans have also been killed by it - all people who had been in close contact with infected birds. A pandemic would only become a possibility if the strain was able to mutate into a form that could be spread between humans attack.html



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