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With the infection and mortality rates for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak continuing to increase but showing some signs of slowing in China, the UK authorities are using established plans for pandemic influenza as the basis for preparedness.

The key planning document setting out planning assumptions is Preparing for Pandemic Influenza – Guidance for Local Planners (2013). General guidance on a pandemic issued by the government can be found here.

Response arrangements need to be able to deal with a range of possibilities and adaptable for a wide range of scenarios, not just the “˜reasonable worst case’ as detailed in the UK Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Strategy 2011.

Whilst there is likely to be local variability, planners prefer for the peak of the influenza wave. This assumes between 10-12% of the local population becoming ill each week during the peak of the local epidemic and that could be sustained over 2-3 weeks.

In the absence of specific planning assumptions for Covid-19, and given the uncertainty in clinical attack rate and case fatality rate, the authorities recommend that planning is undertaken on the basis of moderate pandemic influenza assumptions i.e. 35% clinical attack rate and 1.5% case fatality rate.

Further useful references:

Any change to public health advice will be published here:

Latest information and guidance:

Clinical / professional guidance:

Infection prevention and control:

Public facing guidance:

A public information campaign by PHE was launched on 2 February 2020. This includes social media content on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn which can be amplified by local organisations.

For further reading, please visit our Knowledge Hub.

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