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Officials warning about London 2012 disease spread risk

Health officials are in the process of launching a public health campaign that will coincide with the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in the summe...

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|Jan 16|magazine8 min read

Health officials are in the process of launching a public health campaign that will coincide with the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in the summer, The Guardian newspaper is reporting.

The aim of the campaign is to prevent the spread of disease and to try and stop a disease epidemic from occurring when masses of people come together for the sporting event from all over the world.

Such large crowds and gatherings have even been described as a hotbed of disease by health experts.

As a result, London 2012 organisers have set up what is thought to be one of the biggest health surveillance systems in the world.

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The system will be used to alert healthcare professionals of any signs of illness or unusual infectious diseases and will monitor UK hospital admissions and calls to NHS health advice lines.

In a bid to prevent the overuse of A&E services in the UK during the Olympics, plans are also in place to educate visitors to the UK of the NHS advice lines – NHS Direct and 111 – before they arrive in London.

However, the campaign officials have warned we will not see vaccination programmes being implemented for UK residents or those visiting London.

"By and large it will be business as usual in terms of the public health services and people should just get on and enjoy the Games," Brian McCloskey, the London director of the Health Protection Agency (HPA) told The Guardian.

BBC News also quoted McCloskey as saying: “The history of the Olympic Games suggests infection doesn't happen often.

“The issue for us is to make sure the right system is in place to respond.”

“One of the legacies we shall have [from the Games] is the most comprehensive surveillance system in the world,” McCloskey told the newspaper.

A comment from the Department of Health was also reported in The Guardian. It said: “The NHS has robust plans in place to prepare for any additional demands created by the 2012 Games.

"NHS organisations are working hard to ensure that they have plans in place so that the healthcare needs of local people are not compromised and that we also have high quality health services available to visitors.

“There is a comprehensive testing and exercising plan in place to make sure that all systems are ready for the Games.”

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