‘It Was Always Going to Be Horrible.’ Britain’s Former Top Emergency Planner on COVID-19

‘It Was Always Going to Be Horrible.’ Britain’s Former Top Emergency Planner on COVID-19
People wear masks as they walk over Millennium Bridge near St Paul’s Cathedral, in London, March 22, 2020 (AP photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth).

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Bruce Mann is one of the most experienced emergency planners in the world. As the former director of the British Cabinet Office’s Civil Contingencies Secretariat, he was in charge of Britain’s planning for and response to emergencies and disasters. He coordinated the U.K. government’s response to the 2009 swine flu pandemic and the 2007 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, and played a key role in creating Britain’s Emergency Planning College. We caught up with him last week.

Mann didn’t pull his punches. “A pandemic virus tops every country’s risk register,” he told us, warning that the crisis has barely begun to unfold. “If football is a game of two halves,” he said, “we’re still in the first ten minutes.”

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