Britain irresponsible not to cancel events over swine flu, says Russia

  • Top health official claims scale of pandemic being covered up

Russia’s chief public health officer, Gennadi Onishchenko, has suggested Britain is “irresponsible” in failing to cancel major events in order to contain the swine flu pandemic.

With Russia’s national football team due to play in Cardiff against Wales on 9 September, Onishchenko said: “We will be dissuading our countrymen who express a willingness to travel there. The liberalism that Britain and other European countries are demonstrating is absolutely inappropriate in the circumstances.”

Onishchenko claimed that Russia had 55 confirmed cases of swine flu, 39 of whom had been tourists to Britain. The UK, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, has 11,912 confirmed cases of swine flu. Onishchenko challenged the figure, however, saying: “Our sources indicate that these figures are inaccurate. The number of those infected could be tens or even hundreds of times higher.”

While Russia remains the only country to issue official warnings against travel to Britain, Greece the UAE and China have raised concerns about the extent of infection in the UK.

A bod in the Foreign Office press department declined to comment on the issue other than to tell conference-news “You know what the Russians are like”.

Visit Britain was braver in its response, putting out a brief statement: “This is a global issue and Britain is just one of 160 countries around the world with confirmed cases. There is no need for travellers to cancel or change plans to visit Britain because of swine flu”.

The government did confirm that visitors to Britain will have access to the same advice and treatment for swine flu as UK residents.

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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