Leading article: Keep calm and carry on

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"I'm undecided whether to panic or not," a pathologist, who was also a mother of two small children, was yesterday quoted as saying about the current swine flu epidemic.

Unfortunately, panic is not a decision so much as an instinct. Which is why GPs' surgeries are being besieged with inquiries from people who haven't got it, or aren't even ill, and why some schools which have got cases are reporting that as many as 10 per cent of parents are keeping their children at home until the end of term.

Part of the problem here is that the Government is sending out mixed messages. One moment we are being told not to worry because it really is a mild illness for most people. The next we are told that 65,000 people will die.

The answer, for those whose heart and head are locked in such a tussle as to whether to panic or not, is this: take sensible precautions but get on with your everyday life as best you can. In the end it is all any of us can do.