BEIJING, April 17 (Xinhuanet) -- U.S. President George W. Bush is expected to approve within days a national pandemic influenza response plan under which the government would expand the Internet and possibly permit foreign countries to print U.S. currency during a flu pandemic.
Washington Post reported on Sunday that the document is the first to spell out how the U.S. government would detect and respond to a flu outbreak and continue to function through what could be an 18-month crisis capable of killing up to 1.9 million Americans.
The U.S. Treasury Department is poised to sign agreements with other nations to produce currency if U.S. mints cannot operate, according to the report. The Pentagon is considering stockpiling millions of latex gloves and the Department of Veterans Affairs has developed a drive-through medical exam to quickly assess patients who suspect they have been infected.
The 240-page response plan identifies more than 300 specific tasks for federal agencies, including determining which frontline workers should be vaccinated first and expanding the Internet to accommodate a likely flood of people working from their home computers, according to the newspaper.
Bush was briefed on a draft of the plan on March 17. He is expected to approve the plan within the week, but it continues to evolve, said several administration officials who have been working on it.
The White House is eager to show it can manage the medical, security and economic fallout from a major outbreak following its widely criticized response to Hurricane Katrina, the Post said.
Concern about a possible pandemic has grown with the emergence of the H5N1 avian flu, the most dangerous strain in decades. Enditem