Army on standby for 4-way coronavirus, flu, Brexit and flood disaster this winter

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Boris Johnson has ordered the army to plan for a quadruple crisis that could bring the UK to its knees this winter, according to reports.

Downing Street is reported to have asked the MoD for tabletop exercises that would simulate the combined threat of a serious flu outbreak, a second wave of coronavirus as well as Brexit and flooding.

The Ministry of Defence will carry out the exercises in conjunction with Whitehall departments and local authorities by the end of August in preparation for a worst case scenario, inews reported on Wednesday evening.

There are fears a second coronavirus wave could swiftly overwhelm the NHS and the tabletop exercises are said to involve planning for a deadly reemergence of the disease which has claimed at least 45,000 lives in the UK.

The Brexit transition period is due to end on December 31 and could lead to food shortages and queues at ports unless a trade deal with the EU is in place.

Thus far Downing Street has refused to consider delaying the end to the transition period.

Major flooding incidents were declared in England and parts of South Wales earlier this year due to heavy rains from Storm Dennis and Storm Ciara.

Six of the 10 wettest years on record have taken place in the last 20 years.

Lieutenant General Douglas Chalmers, the head of military strategy and operations at the MoD, spoke about the plans to the House of Lords public services committee which is examining the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “The Covid-19 crisis is still very firmly with us, and definitely as we look towards the winter now, we know about the normal flu season.

“We’re obviously transitioning out of the EU, and we have our normal floods etc that come on.

“So we are looking at very heavily at how we do winter preparedness and we will support, because we run tabletop [TT] exercises very routinely, we will support some of the departmental tabletop exercising… in Whitehall and local resilience forums.

“No10 has been very clear those TT exercises need to be done by the end of August in order that we can learn from them and then act on some of those elements that have been brought forward.”

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