The detailed Cabinet Office document claimed a pandemic could cost tens of thousands of lives and demanded “capability requirements” to keep the nation safe.
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Leaked to the Guardian, the shocking document reveals the Government were told to stockpile Personal Protective Equipment, establish contact tracing, and draw up plans to manage a surge in deaths.
The Government was also warned to make plans for helping Brits abroad, with getting them back flagged as a priority.
One of those who signed off on the 2019 National Security Risk Assessment was Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government's chief scientific adviser.
The document said:
- A pandemic would play out in up to three waves.
- 50 per cent of the population would be infected.
- A pandemic of moderate virulence could lead to 65,600 deaths.
- The potential cost to the UK could be £2.35trillionn.
- It could take years for health and social care services to recover.
- There would be public outrage if it looked like the Government were handling it badly.
It comes as the UK’s hospital death toll from coronavirus heads towards 20,000.
It is unclear whether Theresa May or Boris Johnson were Prime Minister when the document was submitted.
Running to more than 600 pages, it specifically referenced a coronavirus outbreak by mentioning Sars and Mers.
It will demand questions of why Britain was not prepared, with one source saying the UK was caught flat-footed.
They said: “The really frustrating thing is that there were plans. But over the last few years emergency planning has been focused on political drivers, like Brexit and flooding.
“There was a national plan for dealing with a pandemic that should have been implemented. But who took control of that? And who was responsible for making sure that plans were being made at a local level? The truth is, I am not sure anyone was doing this.
“We have been paying for a third-party fire and theft insurance for a pandemic, not a comprehensive one. We have been caught out.”
The shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves, said the revelations "raised serious questions about the government’s planning and preparedness for a coronavirus-style pandemic”.
The Cabinet Office declined to comment.