And yet, and yet….some people have an almost autistic ability to not notice disease. Samuel Pepys made it through 1665 bearly conscious that, all around him, people were dropping dead from Bubonic Plague. Febuary 1665 was very cold-europe was in the grip of a mini-Ice age. The big discussion all middle-class london families were having was whether or not to leave the city. By June 1665, it’s obvious things are bad and only in August 1665 does he leave town, he boasts in a letter of having ‘stayed in the city till about 7400 died in one week,and of them above 6000 of the plague,and little noise heard day nor night but tolling of bells’.

The creation of a proper sewage system for london in the 1870’s did much to preserve the city from water-borne epidemics,but by this time the century had seen several waves of infectious diseases-two flu epidemics between 1831 and 1833,as well as the first  outbreak of cholera,which killed 52,000. There was another attack of cholera between 1836 and 1842; also epidemics of typhoid and typhus. Little surprise that Londoners were Jittery about their health.

Influenza pandemics generally occur three to four times each century.The worst in recent history was the ‘spanish’ flu pandemic of 1918-1919, in which 40-50 million people died.But there were also lesser pandemics in 1957-58. We are due another one.

So here we stand. Today the a report released says that up to 1.2 million people could end up in hospital and 750,000 killed if a flu pandemic sweeps the nation, according to draft Government guidance about an outbreak.

Flu pandemic ‘could kill up to 750,000 people in UK’, guidance warns.

As hospitals are “rapidly” overwhelmed by patients, doctors may have to begin operating a lottery system for intensive care, the blueprint from last year adds.

It also warns that a worst-case pandemic scenario of “catastrophic severity” could result in the “complete or partial collapse of some or all hospital infrastructures”.

Top medics have downplayed the predictions, saying factors like Britain’s high state of readiness and high immunity levels will lessen the impact.

The bleak forecasts come in “Pandemic influenza: Surge capacity and prioritisation in health services”, which was prepared by the Department of Health (DH) last September.

It says up to half the UK population – or 30 million people – could get influenza if the bug outbreak turns into a pandemic.

In the worst case, there would be 2,000 hospital admissions per 100,000 people – or 1.2 million people. There would also be 1,250 fatalities per 100,000 – or 750,000 people.

The report says: “Over the entire period of a pandemic, up to 50% of the population may show clinical symptoms of influenza.

“This could result in the total healthcare contacts for influenza-like illness increasing from around one million during a ‘normal’ season up to 30 million.”

There are also grim implications for the demand of the nation’s estimated 3,450 adult intensive care beds and 320 children’s.

Do we have a chance? ..we will have to wait and see, but as Samuel Pepys wrote: ‘I have never lived so merrily as i have done this Plague-time’