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Johnny Foreigner Y2K laggards named and shamed

Whatever you do, folks, don't go to the Ukraine

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Brace yourself for a diplomatic incident or ten. The Government has named and shamed foreign countries who are falling behind with their Y2K preparations. Keep plenty of cash when in Egypt, don't fall ill in Malaysia or Japan. And what ever you do, cancel that package holiday in the Ukraine. Immediately. The Government has opened its Y2K Web site for business to coincide with the launch of a similar effort of America. That way, we can deflect some of the opprobrium from hurt countries onto the Great Satan itself. The information is on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's web site here So far, reports on fifty countries have been published, and a further 75 are expected to be added. The site gives the low down on all the major areas of infrastructure for each country. Core elements are Energy, Water, Health, Communications, Transport and Economic preparedness, but each country's report will have information on other relevant topics. If you are planning to travel over the New Year period, it would be as well to consult the pages, but don't expect a scale of warnings or a league table of preparedness, said Foreign Office minister John Battle. The point of publishing these reports is to provide "the best service to British Nationals overseas," he said. Other underachievers highlighted on the site included: Japan and Malaysia -- both are falling behind with preparing the health service, Egypt -- check your insurance and keep spare cash to hand. In Russia the airports are "sure to have some difficulties", but officials are "certain" that the country's nuclear industry will be ready in time -- 42 per cent of the systems involved are date critical. There is not yet any information on China. ®

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