Emergency plans to tackle widespread food shortages in the event of a bird flu pandemic are being drawn up by ministers, according to secret Cabinet documents.
Off-duty firemen and retired lorry drivers would be pressed into service to ensure that essential food and drink supplies were delivered. Laws that restrict the daily hours of drivers and other vital workers would be suspended.
The confidential papers - seen by the Sunday Telegraph - show that a serious lack of long-distance- HGV drivers willing to go to infected areas is seen in Whitehall as a potential "pinch point" if avian flu takes a grip. The papers reveal government concern over a lack of preparation for a pandemic among the biggest food firms.
They also show how, in the event of a serious outbreak overseas, the Government will give preventive medicine to embassy and consular staff - but not to British holidaymakers or UK nationals who live in an infected country.
The Government fears that any pandemic could last more than six months. The documents say that Whitehall should be on alert for a pandemic on an "extended time-scale - certainly for six months … and perhaps longer". They also suggest "more than one pandemic wave" of bird flu. Source Telegraph